Harris: Sustainable laudering tips
As the days of winter wane and spring comes into full force, I thought it would be good to discuss how much energy and money can be saved when utilizing a few habits and/or practices while washing and drying ones clothes.
Did you know that next to water heaters and refrigerators, tumble dryers account for 6 percent of the energy used in America and adds to consumer’s yearly utility bills around $9 billion dollars. On average, running a clothes dryer, is equivalent to running 225 CFL bulbs at once, for an hour. Along with being a glut on energy, high heat is damaging to ones clothes. Researchers have tested drying clothes with no heat vs. heat at 150°F, and found that after only 20 cycles of washing and drying, the fabric had lost about 50 percent of its tensile strength. Let’s say that again: Drying fabric at 150°F only twenty times makes it twice as easy to tear. Not only that, but each time you dry at that temperature, it compounds the degradation of the fabric. On top of that, it’s commonly known that drying can shrink ones clothes. In fact, drying shrinks clothing twice as much as washing, and tumble-drying shrinks twice as much as air-drying.
As an alternative to tumble drying, line drying has numerous benefits to your wallet, your peace of mind and to your clothes: #1, it’s environmentally friendly. Secondly, ones clothes smell great in those spring/summer breezes. Thirdly, there is no static cling. And fourth, it can reduce wrinkles. Another plus to consider is that being outside is nice and fun with the kids and can be considered being active.
Additionally, I have found that during the winter in Colorado it gets really dry and lacking of humidity. Since I have put up a clothes line in the basement, I find the house gets a dose of humidity that helps prevent those bloody noses, dry skin, and super dry hair; all of which are not healthy.
On another note, hot water is a glutton on ones energy bills and contributes to 90 percent of the energy used when running a washing machine. Only 10 percent of the energy goes to running the motor. On average, Americans wash 300 loads a year and there are a lot of opportunities to save money by washing with cold water. As an example, if every person in Las Vegas switched to using only cold water, the energy saved could light the Vegas strip for a week. Or, even more so, if every household in America switched to cold water, it would be equivalent to the power produced by Hoover Dam in 20 months. It would also save each household, $60 to $100 per year in power savings. The research has proven that washing in cold water preserves one’s clothes better and doesn’t allow certain stains to set in. Plus, there is some thought that the hot water causes shrinking in clothes as well.
Happy sustainable laundering. Thomas Harris
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