With the cost of living crisis putting financial pressure on households across the country, many of us are worried about the impact of rising energy, food, rent and mortgage costs and looking to make savings wherever we can.
Using its unique washing machine, tumble dryer, and laundry detergent lab tests, Which? has found five simple steps consumers can take to save up to £162 on their laundry costs this winter.
1. Wash at a lower temperature
The average washing machine costs about £77 a year to run four washes a week. Which? tested a range of washing machines to see how washing at lower temperatures affects cleaning and energy use. Switching from 40°C to 30°C saved on average 38 per cent energy, or £29. Going down even further to 20°C saved 62 per cent energy, or £48 per year.
Lowering the temperature of your wash doesn’t mean you need to compromise on cleaning power. Which?’s snapshot test revealed that unless you’re washing really soiled clothes, modern machines will do a good job of getting them clean most of the time.
2. Keep your tumble dryer well maintained
Which? tested the performance of heat pump dryers over 20 loads of drying and found that some machines ended up using 50 per cent more energy on the twentieth load than they did during the first load. The main reason for the dryers becoming less efficient is because lower filters often get blocked up with dust and lint. The average heat pump dryer costs around £68 per year to do three loads a week, so this additional energy used due to blocked filters could add around £34 to the annual cost.
To stop your dryer from becoming inefficient, be sure to clean and empty the filter regularly.
3. Stop doing daily small washes
The most energy-efficient way of washing clothes is to fill up the drum, rather than washing fewer items on a quick wash programme.
Quick programs – or speed-up buttons – slightly reduce how much energy is used, but not as effectively as doing bigger normal washes less regularly. Which? previously checked what effect speed-up functions have on cleaning and energy in May 2019 and found dramatic differences between the three machines tested. One machine only reduced the energy used by around 20 per cent, while another cut it in half – not enough to justify a daily wash. Doing a bigger normal wash four times a week ended up using 17 per cent less energy than the average of the three fast daily washes. This would add up to an annual saving of around £13 for the average washing machine. Plus, you’ll make additional savings by using less detergent.
4. Switch to a Best Buy laundry detergent
Don’t assume that big brand washing powder, capsules or liquids will wash your clothes better. Which? recently tested 36 different laundry detergents and found that the most expensive detergent tested cost 40p per wash, but one of the top-rated supermarket own brand washing powders costs as little as 8p per wash and cleans just as well. Switching to a cheaper detergent could save close to £67 per year – if you are using your machine four times a week.
5. Look for Great Value
If you love a deal or are on a tight budget, make sure to look out for Which?’s Great Value badge on reviews. While Which? Best Buys remain the gold standard when it comes to product recommendations, when you see the consumer champion’s Great Value badge you can be sure that the product does a good job and represents excellent value for money. Across the Which? site you’ll find more than 500 Great Value products from more than 70 product areas.
Natalie Hitchins, Which? Home Products and Services Editor, said:
“Many consumers are worried about huge energy bills this winter, especially given a lot of people are already feeling the pressures of the cost of living crisis. However, Which? has identified a few simple ways to cut laundry costs.
“By making changes including washing your clothes at a cooler temperature, doing a larger load rather than smaller daily washes and switching to a cheaper detergent – you could potentially save more than £150 this winter.”
Notes to editors:
- If you’re in the market for a new dryer, you could save as much as £100 a year in running costs by choosing an energy-saving heat-pump tumble dryer rather than a less efficient condenser model.
- Find out everything you need to know about the government’s winter 2022 cost of living support and how it will be paid to you.
- If you are struggling to afford your energy bills and feel you need urgent support, head to our guide to what to do if you can’t pay your energy bills.
Which? is the UK’s consumer champion, here to make life simpler, fairer and safer for everyone. Our research gets to the heart of consumer issues, our advice is impartial, and our rigorous product tests lead to expert recommendations. We’re the independent consumer voice that influences politicians and lawmakers, investigates, holds businesses to account and makes change happen. As an organisation we’re not for profit and all for making consumers more powerful.
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