I have to say, the Puget Sound Energy site is quite good. I’m able to get way more information about my electricity and gas usage than I ever knew I could. If you look at your bill details online, you can break your usage into a variety of charts (daily, monthly, electricity, gas, etc.) using the “Energy Use Analyzer” tool which can be found on the bill statement page.
When I looked our our daily electricity chart, a clear pattern emerged. Monday through Friday were the low usage days. This makes sense since we typically are not home during the day during the week. I also noticed very large spikes on one day of each weekend, usually on Sundays. I knew instantly what it was: laundry. The New York Times concurs.
Derek does all the dishes. I do all the laundry. And I usually do all this laundry in one day, typically taking six loads. I know that is a lot. With four people in our household, we average more than a load per week. There are a few reasons for this. First, my soon to be five-year-old daughter changes her clothes throughout the day. I’m never quite sure what is clean and what is dirty so I tend to throw everything that has touched her floor into the dirty pile. Second, I wash everything that has been worn at all during the week. From a hallway conversation I had at work, I realized different people have different rules for what actually needs to be washed. My rule defaults to everything that has been pulled off a hangar — this is probably excessive.
Laundry is a triple whammy of electricity usage: 1. The washer, 2. The dryer, and 3. The hot water heater. We have two things that do help, a better-than average efficiency for our hot water heater and an Energy Star washer and dryer set. We also, a few years ago, purchased the Fisher & Paykel washer and dryer set. The washer uses only 24% of the electricity of a traditional washer and the spin cycle pulls out more water, making drying cycles shorter.
So here’s what we’re going to do to bring laundry electricity usage down:
- Teach my young daughter not to change so many times during the day. Wish me luck on this one.
- I will be more judicious about what I actually put through the laundry. If something (all undergarments and socks vehemently excluded from this) appears lightly worn (things like sweaters, light jackets, etc.), I’ll hang them up instead of rewashing them.
- To make the hot water heater work less hard, I will do more cold and warm/cold washes.
- We are going to set up a clothesline. I bought the supplies today and we’re going to set this up next weekend. My goal is to dry three loads a week on the line (during warm/dry days). If you are interested in a clothesline, you’ll be amazed by the options you’ll see at Urban Clothes Lines. Of course, you can find simple lines at your local hardware store.