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Tips to save money and conserve water in the laundry room

Saving money and conserving water in the laundry room is always a win-win situation for the pocketbook and the environment. This week, the City of Lethbridge offers a few tips, using a family of four and based on the April 2024 residential water rate of $1.327 per cubic metre. 

Washing machines are water intensive. Modern standard washers use an average of 75.5 litres per load. Efficiently filling each load can save water and money. Washing full loads should be the goal, but there are other options. 

“In addition to always running full loads, the other thing you can do is learn the settings on your washing machine,” says Kathleen Sheppard, executive director of Environment Lethbridge. “Many machines adjust the water used for the size of the load. All you have to do is program it.” 

Running one full load per day would cost at least $36.50 a year in water alone. When you factor in other costs like energy (for hot water) and detergent, the cost-per-load is around $1.35. Add it all up and the family of four are paying around $500 a year for this daily chore. They’re also using more than 27,500 litres of water. 

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If the family can drop to five full loads per week, they would save around $150 a year and conserve almost 8,000 litres of water.     

As seen with low flow showerheads and faucets, increasing your washer’s efficiency is key. High-efficiency (HE) washers use an average of around 53 litres per load. That would reduce the the family’s water use by almost 30 per cent. At five loads per week, the family would save almost $50 a year while conserving another 5,900 litres of water. 

To maximize water efficiency, the family could explore a front-loading HE washer. The most efficient models use as little as 26.5 litres per load.  

If the family moves from seven loads per week with a modern standard washer, to five loads per week with a front-loading HE machine, they would save $375 while using only 6,890 litres of water. That means their annual at-home laundry bills drops to $125 and they conserve an amazing 20,600 litres of water.  

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Grease, grass, food, oil and makeup are all things that can wreak havoc on clothing. 

“There’s nothing more frustrating than pulling an item from the washing machine and seeing a stain,” adds Sheppard. “Pretreating makes sure you only have to wash items once. This saves water and extends the life of your clothes.” 

The key to pretreating a stain is quick action. There are several ways to attack a fresh stain. Some can be removed using home remedies like a cold-water soak or a combination of vinegar and baking soda. Tougher stains may need a few squirts of commercial pre-treater. Whichever method you choose, pretreating a stain can help ensure it’s removed in a single wash. 

There are several other ways the family can conserve water in their laundry room. 

Re-using towels and wearing clothes more than once. You can use a shower towel multiple times before it needs a wash. Avoid using the “extra rinse” feature. If you use the correct amount of detergent, your machine’s default rinse cycle should suffice. Check for leaks. As seen in the bathroom and kitchen, leaks are costly. Regularly examine your washer’s hoses. 

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