It seems to be a well-known fact that making your home more energy efficient will help your family save money and conserve energy. Beyond buying energy star rated appliances, there are other steps you can take to make your home more energy efficient. Since becoming more conscious of my family’s energy usage, I’ve actually found my new habits save me time on normal household tasks. Specifically, I’ve cut down on the time it takes to do laundry and dishes. Over the past year, by making some of these simple changes, our natural gas bill has gone down $60 a month! In terms of time, I think I’ve saved several hours a month. And, while I love saving money, saving time is often even more important since it’s something you can never get back.
If you’re like me, it probably seems like you’re doing laundry every day. When my washer and dryer broke shortly after moving into my home, my husband and I opted to buy a new energy star rated set. In the first six months after switching to the new dryer, our gas bill dropped drastically, and so did the time it took to dry our clothes. However, over the following couple of years the drying time began to slowly increase until it was taking twice as long to dry a load of clothes. It never occurred to me that there could be lint build-up—I’m extremely diligent about emptying the lint filter after each load comes out of the dryer. After borrowing a dryer lint brush from my neighbor to clean underneath my lint filter (deep inside my dryer), I was shocked to see the amount of lint that had built up in my dryer where I could not even see it. Then, we removed the pipe that vents the dryer outside and it was scary to see the amount of lint that was clogging that pipe. Since cleaning out the pipe and the filter, my clothes dry in half the time. A full load takes about 30 minutes, which is the same amount of time it takes to wash a load. I save so much time by having my dryer run properly, and I’m sure I’ll be saving more money! Plus, we’ve significantly reduced the risk of a fire.
Another thing to keep in mind is that dryer sheets may be your enemy. While they might make your clothes smell pretty, they can wreak havoc on your dryer’s lint filter. If you use dryer sheets, you should remove the filter and run it under water in your sink. Watch as the water does not filter through. Dryer sheets cause a waxy build-up, minimizing how well the filter works. I used dish soap, water and an old toothbrush to clean my lint filter. Then, my husband and I agreed to stop using dryer sheets and instead have switched to dryer balls. The dryer balls are great because they still remove the static from our clothes, but they do not pose the fire risk or the energy efficiency risk that dryer sheets carry. Plus, the cut down on the chemicals my family is exposed to.
Finally, when it comes to drying your clothes, if you want to be your greenest green, then you should hang your clothes to dry. Of course this is much easier in the warmer months of the year. It doesn’t take much to hang a clothes line, and it’s a great way to give your clothes that fresh air clean smell. While you’re hanging your clothes outside your kids can play outside, instead of having them stuck inside while you do laundry. Plus, imagine the energy you’ll save by not running your dryer at all!
For years I always used the “Heat Dry” function on my dishwasher. The result was dry dishes that I had to wait at least one hour to even touch, let alone put away. As part of my New Year’s Resolution, I stopped using “Heat Dry” when running my dishwasher. I will admit that I was skeptical that I would have to wait much longer to unload the dishwasher, but this has not been the case. The first time I chose not to use the heat dry function on my dishwasher, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I could unload the clean dishes as soon as the wash cycle ended. Everything was dry. The only difference was that my dishes did not burn my hand to touch them. While I usually run my dishwasher before going to bed, and then unload it first thing in the morning, it is definitely a time-saver on those days when I need to run the dishwasher during the day. In addition, by skipping heat dry I’m saving on electricity.
These are just a few ways that being energy efficient has saved me time and money, not to mention benefiting the environment. As a mom, time is something I don’t have the luxury of wasting, so anything that helps me save time on the mundane, everyday tasks is a plus. I hope others will be able to reclaim some of their time, too!