Saving 80 per cent of our laundry energy or just ‘a fart in a teapot’?


[Maggie] Should I be congratulating myself on cutting my laundry energy by nearly 80%? Or is it, as Ian memorably called it, just a fart in a teapot?


…I did 27 washes for the business in October. I use a machine that can take a 9kg load and I always do a full wash. I usually wash at 40 degrees (tried 30, but it doesn’t get things clean enough with my eco – friendly washing powder), sometimes at 30 and sometimes at 60 degrees for really dirty stuff – teatowels etc.

We have a tumble dryer. I try hard not to turn it on, and when I do its heat is reused in the house because it’s a condensing model. I managed to keep it off all October (actually it was only on 3 times between April and the end of October). But if I had used it, data I’ve just collected (November) suggest it would have used about 2.87 kWh per load.

If I’d washed everything at 40 deg and tumble dried the lot it would have used about 98.4 kWh. Instead, my smart monitor on the machine reads 18.4 kWh for October.

So should I be congratulating myself on cutting my laundry energy by nearly 80%? Or is it, as Ian memorably called it, just a fart in a teapot?

It takes an awful lot longer to line dry things than to load the tumble dryer – eye on the weather, out, back in, out again, wearing a path to the line… And in financial terms I’ve saved only about £8.00 (our daytime tarrif is about 10p per kWh) and am likely to save less than £100 over the year. If I’d spent the time earning money rather than trying to save energy we’d probably have been better off.

My point is that nobody is going to go green for the cash savings – it’s just too much hard work. I can do it (and will continue to, on principle) because I’m at home most of the day and it’s relatively easy to take advantage of good weather etc.

But it’s not going to get us out of the climate change hole we’ve dug ourselves. It goes back to the arguement about spurious big number multipliers – a lot of small changes still only add up to a small change and we need something much bigger. It’s another depressing thought I’m afraid.

Meanwhile, I’m still on the trail to find the big energy guzzlers in our house…