Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Greenify Your Family, Pt. 2

(This is part two of a daily series I am writing on how to have a greener and more frugal home. I will address issues such as food and laundry, offering concrete tools to lower your bills while reducing your carbon footprint. When I am finished, I will give the series a permanent home on my website at www.sagemommy.com.)

Did you know that 90% of the energy used in laundry is used to heat the water? I was surprised when I heard this, because I only occasionally use hot water to wash my clothes.

Here are a few tried and true ways to bring down the water and energy usage involved in laundry:

1. Use less hot water. I have always used hot water to wash whites, warm for pastels, and cold for darks and colors, but one week I decided to move it down a notch. I washed whites in warm and everything else in cold. Everything came out just as clean, so this is my new plan. I do still wash diapers in hot because I want them thoroughly degermified.

2. Try homemade detergents. The real savings here is money, although you'll be cutting down on packaging because homemade detergents are more concentrated than storebought. Instead of pouring fabric softener in your rinse, try a little white vinegar. The smell will be gone by the time the washer stops spinning, but your clothes will be soft and chemical-free.

3. Use that clothesline. I know you all are probably tired of hearing me talk about it, but air drying clothes can bring huge energy savings. I'm not one of those hard core people who dries clothes on indoor lines throughout the winter, but I have a full line almost 24/7 throughout the warmer months. This is especially helpful now that I am using cloth diapers, which wouldn't save any money if tumble dried.

4. Wear it twice, or three or four times even. This will not just cut down on your laundry bill, it will cut down on your laundry time as well as make your clothing last longer.