Green Your Laundry
By Linda Mason Hunter
At eight loads of laundry a week, the average family uses both the washing machine and the dryer six hours each on average per week. Even with some of the more energy efficient models, the combined cost of doing laundry can add up to $115 a year for electricity alone. There is a better way.
The best washing machine is a front loader, not a top loader with an agitator. The agitator is hard on fabrics, so they don’t last as long, and a top loader uses more energy and water, leaving far too much water in the clothes, making the dryer run much longer. Front-loaders get more of the water out of your clothes.
Wash only full loads of laundry and wash in cold water. Over 20% of a home’s energy costs is tied up in hot water. Unless you’re dealing with tough stains, fabrics get just as clean in cold water as they do in hot.
Instead of using the dryer, hang clothes on a rack to dry, or outside on the clothesline when weather permits. If you do use a dryer, consider using wool dryer balls to shrink drying time. Depending on the make and model of your dryer, they decrease drying time by 30 to 50%, saving energy and money.
Each ball weighs about two ounces. Use three at a time to absorb moisture, rotate clothes and provide better air circulation. There’s no static and fewer wrinkles, meaning less time ironing. And they’re safe for people with sensitive skin. To scent clothes, add a few drops of an essential oil to each ball.
I use ULAT Pure Wool Dryer Balls, made in Canada but available in the US online at ULAT.ca. They’re made from 100% Canadian Merino wool from an Alberta sheep co-op.
LED Bulbs: The Smart Choice
By Linda Hunter
After years suffering through the nightmare that was compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs)—which are expensive, don’t last as long as they’re touted to last, and contain toxic mercury (thus making disposal difficult, not to mention dealing with breakage)—we now have a safe, reliable, energy efficient, and fairly affordable option: LED (low emitting diode) bulbs. LED bulbs look and feel like a traditional light bulb, but use up to 85% less power and last 20 times longer. They cost more than traditional incandescent bulbs, but payback is one year or less depending on usage, according to manufacturers.
When I tested LED bulbs, I found the light output and color to be virtually indistinguishable from a normal incandescent bulb. They fit into traditional electrical sockets and run cool, which saves on air conditioning in summer. (The energy provided by incandescent bulbs is 90% heat and only 10% light). LEDs don’t contain mercury and emit low EMFs (electromagnetic radiation). Perhaps best of all, as prices for LEDs continue to fall, replacing your light bulbs with LEDs makes good financial sense, making LEDs the smart choice this spring.