So I'm reading the washing machine manual the other day, looking to see how to soak some stained kitchen towels before washing them, in an effort to get out the stains (and zomg! it worked!). After slaking my thirst for knowledge re: soaking things in hot water, detergent and bleach, I continued reading, it being a riveting read.
I actually learned several handy things about better using my own washing machine. The most important thing was that I was reminded that this washer is the 'Super Capacity Plus' washer. Huh. I'd forgotten about it. Kevin further reminds me that we bought it so we could wash more clothes more efficiently (or something) and so that we could wash large things, e.g., quilts, bedspreads, etc., w/o having to go to a laundromat or send it to the cleaners. This all sounded vaguely familiar.
Truly surprising (as surprising as appliance-related revelations can be) were the loading suggestions in the laundry tips section. Here they are for the Super Capacity Plus washer:
Heavy Work Clothes
- 4 jeans
- 4 workpants
- 4 workshirts
- 2 sweatshirts
- 2 sweatpants
- 10 bath towels
- 10 hand towels
- 14 wash clothes
- 3 sheets (1 king, 2 twin)
- 4 pillowcases
- 3 shirts
- 3 blouses
- 9 t-shirts
- 9 shorts
- 10 handkerchiefs
Besides the idea that anyone in this day and age might use handkerchiefs enough to have 10 to wash at any given time, I was quite surprised at the size of the suggested loads. I have not been washing loads this big. Thinking back on my laundry habits, I seem to recall that I did wash large loads when we first got the washer. Some time after that, I helped a former neighbor out when she had premature twins, including a lot of laundry. She asked me to make smaller loads, and I did, but I do believe it was then that I began to doubt myself. I didn't think that she likely didn't have a Super Capacity Plus model. Maybe she only had the Super Capacity model. Maybe she only had the Capacity model, poor thing. Those twins are now in (I think) first grade so I've been washing smaller loads than necessary for that long.
So how much energy have I've been wasting? It was too complicated to look up my particular model's energy usage, figure out how much electricity has cost over the past 6 years, etc. etc., so I'm just going with averages. Mr. Electricity very helpfully has some average data on the cost of washing machine use here. I didn't check the accuracy/plausibility of these figures; I simply trust in the power of Google and the internets.
- Let's say 75% of my loads are warm wash/cold rinse; 25% are hot wash/cold rinse; that's prolly too high on the latter, but we'll go with it.
- Mr. E says those loads, using gas heat to heat the water, cost $0.27 and $0.39, respectively.
- I prolly do 6-8 loads/week; so let's say 7 loads/week. Holy moley, that's a lot of laundry. That's a load/day. I should have something better to do.
- Let's say 5 loads are warm wash/cold rinse and 2 are hot wash/cold rinse.
- And that this has been going on for 6 years (it sounds so illicit).
Putting my math cap on (which is a very tight fit, btw):
- 5 loads x $0.27 = $1.35
- 2 loads x $0.39 = $0.78
- so 7 loads = $2.13
- for 52 weeks that's 364 loads = $110.76
- for 6 years that's 2,184 loads = $664.56
Now, figuring that each load was 75% of the maximum load capacity, I'll multiply $664.56 by .25 (25%) to get the excess spent on washing clothes which = $166.14. Divide that by 6 years = $27.69/year. Hmph. Well, that doesn't seem like very much. Of course, one can always find a better use for money that practically throwing it out the window, but this is a less exciting answer that I anticipated. It's so late on a Thursday that I'm going to go with this anti-climatic topic bc I don't have time to work up something else.
But there's more to the waste than mere money. There's the wasted water and the wasted time. I won't say that there was similar waste wrt the clothes dryer bc I think the washer can successfully wash larger loads than the dryer can successfully dry.
My point,, and I do have one, as undramatic as it may be, is that I wasted time, money and natural resources by not using my washer properly. I wouldn't be surprised if there aren't quite a few practices throughout the household that result in similar waste. Using my washer correctly is not going to make or break my retirement, but it, along with other small changes, will keep more money in my wallet v. going to the utility company. It's also more efficient time-wise; I don't know about you, but I don't feel that doing laundry is quality time with myself. And, perhaps most importantly in this instance, it reduces the amount of water I use.
BTW, longtime readers will recall that I am most definitely not a math major. It's embarrassing how much time it took to figure out the above. So if anyone has corrections to the calculation, I'd be delighted to hear them.