9 Energy-Saving Washing Machine Tips

A pile of laundry detergent with a pink scoop.
  • Beginner

Washing machines are one of the biggest energy consumers in the house and yet they are almost impossible to live without. Fortunately, there are many ways you can save energy when using the washing machine. From checking water temperatures to getting the most out of your washer’s settings, here are nine tips for saving money in the laundry room.

1. Use Cold Water

You can save an enormous amount of energy by using cold instead of hot water. A washing machine uses the majority of a hot water heater's energy. Using cold water will significantly reduce energy consumption and also alleviates work on the hot water heater. Washing with cold water is just as effective against stains and helps cut down on wrinkled clothes.

2. Insulate Pipes

A close-up of gray foam pipe insulation.

The hot water pipes running through your home should be insulated to avoid heat loss. Insulating the pipes will help keep the water hot and lessen the workload on the washer. If possible, relocate your washer closer to the hot water heater so the water has less distance to travel.

3. Regulate Water Temperature

If you have to use hot water on a load, double-check that your hot water heater is not running too hot. The water heater should be set to 120 degrees Fahrenheit, which is 20 degrees below the default setting. This will ensure that you are saving the most energy even if you need to use hot or warm water.

4. Only Run Full Loads

A fully loaded washing machine.

Your washer expends the same amount of energy regardless of the size of the load. You should always try to wash full loads whenever possible. In fact, it takes less energy to run a full load than two smaller ones. You may need to experiment with how many clothes your washer can actually handle but refer to the operator’s manual for specific weight limits. As a rule of thumb, most people do not wash enough clothes per load.

5. Use Cold Water Detergents

If you decide to use cold water on your clothes, consider experimenting with cold-water detergents as regular detergents do not work as well without hot water. These cleaning agents are specifically designed for use in cold water, though you may need to try a few brands to find the perfect fit for your washer.

6. Maximize Settings

Someone adjusting the settings on a washing machine.

If available on your model, always use the energy savings setting on your washer. Try to avoid the extra hot settings, but make sure you select the highest spin option to decrease the dryer’s workload. Also, consider the time it takes for each size load and make the appropriate adjustments. Remember that the longer your washer runs, the more energy it uses.

7. Avoid Excess Detergent

Using excess detergent can lead to an abundance of suds in the load, which will make your washer run harder and subsequently use more energy. If you are washing two loads in a row, take advantage of the suds-saving setting that is featured on newer models. This will lessen the amount of water your washer uses on the second load.

8. Utilize Soak Cycles

A washing machine with water flowing into the basin.

Presoaking your clothes can do wonders in getting rid of odors and stains—but only use this setting with heavily soiled clothing. This will also help you avoid washing the clothes a second time, which definitely saves a lot of energy in the long-run.

9. Upgrade to a More Efficient Appliance

If your washer is outdated or does not carry a top Energy Star rating, then it might be time for an upgrade. Newer washers use significantly less gallons of water per load and come equipped with many energy-saving settings.