Benjamin Franklin Plumbing Blog

Is Your Washing Machine Wasting Water?

Does your water bill seem higher than usual? There’s an appliance in your house that might be draining your wallet: the washing machine. In fact, the average clothes washer uses 31 gallons per load. Older models can use more than 40 gallons per load!

Luckily, there are a few easy ways to reduce the amount of water (and energy) used for washing clothes.


Use Less Water: Wash and dry full loads. If you are washing a small load, use the appropriate water-level setting. Today’s high efficiency washing machines use significantly less water than older units. So if you find yourself wondering why your modern washer uses so much less water than your outdated version, don’t worry — and don’t add extra water.  Front-loaders, HE top-loaders, and some newer agitator washers rely on a load-sensing feature to adjust the amount of water, based on the weight of the load, states Consumer Reports.

Don’t Overstuff the Washer: Allow enough room for the dirty laundry to move around in the washer, without overstuffing. Overloading your machine could damage the drum and decrease efficiency. Clothes won’t come out as clean, which may require you to run a second wash.

Check for Leaks: Leaky internal hoses, pumps, and worn out tub fittings could be causing your machine to operate less efficiently.

Use the Right Detergent: If you have a front-loading washer or high-efficiency top-loader, use detergent labeled for high-efficiency (HE) machines. According to the American Cleaning Institute (PDF), HE detergents are low-sudsing and quick-dispersing to clean well in high-efficiency washers that use less water.

Use Colder Water: Wash your clothes in cold water using cold-water detergents whenever possible. Unless you’re dealing with oily stains, the warm or cold water setting on your machine will generally do a good job of cleaning your clothes. Switching your temperature setting from hot to warm can cut a load’s energy use in half.

Consider Local Utility Time-of-Day Programs: These programs offer lower energy costs at certain times of day (often overnight). If you can plan to do your laundry overnight, you can pay less to do your laundry. Contact your utility for more information.

Invest in an Upgraded Washing Machine: Washers built before 2003 use significantly more water than newer ones. High-efficiency, front-loading clothes washers can use as little as 13 gallons of water per load. That’s three times LESS water than an older, inefficient machine! If you do laundry once a week, you could save 1,404 gallons of water using a high efficiency, front loading clothes washer.  Not only is that better for the environment — it’s better for your water bill, too!

If you’re looking to upgrade water appliances or simply stop a leak, contact Benjamin Franklin Plumbing. Our skilled plumbers can address any laundry leaks you might have. And we’re always happy to help homeowners choose new, more energy-efficient options for the home.

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