This post first appeared in our weekly Make Waves Mondays email series on March 29, 2021.
Oh why hello there, EcoWarrior! It’s such a pleasure to see you again :)
Imma keep this week’s post short and sweet. I know the last several have been kind of a lot, and I wanna give you a little mental break :)
This month’s Small Change Big Impact is to simply wash your laundry with cold water.
Isn’t hot water more effective than cold?
Washing machines and laundry detergents are much more efficient than they used to be. With past technologies, hot or warm water played a large part in getting our laundry clean. But with the technology advancements of today, that’s no longer the case.
Many of us, myself included, choose the hot setting for some loads because we believe the hot setting will sanitize our laundry. But apparently, unless your machine has a specific “sanitize” setting, the water doesn’t even get hot enough for that.
(Drying clothes in the sun does sanitize, though...although that’s a topic for another week.)
Personally, I was using the hot setting to wash my period undies for a while, for this same reason, until I realized that I was actually setting stains instead of removing them that way. 🤦♀️ Cold water only for me now!
Switching to cold water saves money!
According to a study by The Sustainability Consortium, switching to cold water for laundry washing and rinsing can save between $60 and $200 a year in energy costs!
By their calculations, taking the average of top-loaders and front-loaders, one load of laundry on a hot setting costs about 77¢.
On a warm setting, that number drops to about 65¢.
And a cold setting brings us to about 53¢.
In a super basic example, the average number of loads per week for an American family is about 8 loads of laundry. Over a year, that’s 416 loads of laundry. Switching from warm to cold for just half of those loads saves about $25 a year.
How much energy does switching to cold water save?
A whopping 90% of the energy used to wash your clothes comes from heating the water. Only about 10% is from actually running the machine.
How crazy is that?!
And did you know that a whole 2% of the US greenhouse gas emissions each year come from washing our clothes?? That’s 26 million metric tons of greenhouse gases every year.
According to that same study from The Sustainability Consortium, if just one load each week is washed on cold, you’ll save about 0.032 metric tons of greenhouse gases. That’s the same as not driving 77 miles - just from one load!
And if every household made the switch to just one cold load of laundry each week, the US as a whole would save about 2.3 million metric tons of greenhouse gases - or the equivalent of 200,000 cars taken off the road completely (5.5 BILLION miles not driven).
Imagine if we did all of our laundry on cold. We could save SO MUCH ENERGY! And our clothes would last longer, too. Talk about small change, big impact ;)
Sending you all my best this week, my friend 💙