Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Greenwashing we can get behind

Betty's September column appears below and in Abode online!

An inherited and ultra-inefficient clothes washer nearing its death was the inspiration for this month’s topic: tips for a green laundry room makeover! At 400 loads of laundry a year per family (more for us messy outdoor-types, like my two favorite sons), conservation is Betty’s call to action.

When purchasing:
The good news is new washer technology can yield up to 40 percent energy savings. Start shopping by checking out the Energy Star website (energstar.gov) and look for labels with higher MEF (Modified Energy Factor), which means higher efficiency, and low WF (Water Factor). Front loaders initially cost more, but clearly win in terms of water and energy efficiency. Conventional clothes washers use about 40 gallons of water for a complete cycle; large capacity, resource-efficient models use less than 25 gallons; smaller models use less than 10. Pick one with plenty of water level options and faster spin speed.
Dryers unfortunately don’t have Energy Star labels, but a moisture sensor is the important feature here. Take your old washers and dryers to Cycle Systems (formerly Coiners) for recycling.

When using:
You’ve heard the basics: full loads, cold water (remember: a hot water wash with warm rinse costs 5 to 10 times more than a cold wash and rinse), and biodegradable detergent. Clear your dryer lint filter after each cycle and avoid non-biodegradable fabric softeners (I use Nellie’s Dryer Balls). Drying several loads in a row will take advantage of residual heat. Of course line-drying is uber-green.
An easy tip we shouldn’t forget: Wearing clothes more than once before washing extends their longevity. Check the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy’s site, acee.org, for more information.

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