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Smart Home

How to save money on laundry day

Lower your electricity bill with these tips.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Lowering your energy bill is a smart way to save money, and your laundry room is a good place to start. 

Washing machines and dryers can eat up a lot of water and electricity (or gas in the case of gas dryers) -- especially if you have an older model. 

But you don't need to hand-wash and line-dry your clothes to save money. Here are some simple, easy changes you can make to lower your washer and dryer's energy consumption.

Don't obsess over water temperature

Unless a clothing label specifies a certain temperature, consider choosing the cold setting when starting a wash load. A whopping 90 percent of the energy used to wash a load goes into heating the water, according to Consumer Reports. So, you can save substantially on power usage by going cold.

Don't worry about your clothes not getting cleanin cold water, either. Most detergents are designed to work better in cold water. By choosing the cold setting you are actually getting cleaner clothes. An added benefit is cold water helps prevent color fading, as well.

For some loads, like towels and sheets, hot water is a better choice to kill bacteria. Everything else will be fine in cold water.

Go cooler with your dryer, too

A higher heat setting on your dryer uses more energy. Go with a lower heat setting (and a longer drying time) to use less energy.

Make sure to use your dryer's cool-down option, too. It will finish up the load with the heat that is already in the dryer, instead of producing more.

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Speed up the drying process

The faster your clothes get dry, the less money you spend on electricity. If you're lowering the heating temperature, then you need to speed up the drying time in other ways. There are several ways to make your dryer more efficient.

First, make sure it is cleaned out. The airways that carry humid hot air away from your clothes should be free of lint and debris. Clogged airways will keep the moist air trapped in the dryer drum with your clothes, making them take longer to dry.

So, every time you put in a load, make sure to clean out the lint trap thoroughly. Once a year, vacuum out the vents and the air hose coming out of the back of your dryer, too. Here are some tips on deep-cleaning your dryer.

Second, you can make the transportation of the humid air more efficient by shortening the accordionlike hose on the back of your dryer. A shorter hose can make your dryer work 20 percent faster because it doesn't need to push the moist air as far. If the hose doesn't have any excess length, move your dryer closer to the exit vent in the wall or floor, then trim the hose to a shorter length.

Third, give your clothes an extra spin in the washer. Getting rid of excess water can speed up the drying process by as much as half.

Finally, don't pack your dryer. Clothes need room to tumble around to get dry. A good rule of thumb is to only fill your dryer two-thirds of the way full.

Always run a full load

Washers and dryers use about the same amount of electricity to wash a small load as they do a full load. So, it's more efficient to wait to do laundry until you have a full load.

Need to wash right away and don't have enough clothes and towels to fill up the basin? See this gallery for some household items you can clean in a washing machine that you may not have considered.