Monday, January 25, 2010

How much does it cost to wash cloth diapers?

Say you NEVER want stinkies and you never want to have to troubleshoot, research detergents, order soap online, or strip diapers.

Super Effective Wash Routine
Use tide and lots of rinses (DON'T use tide if you don't use lots of rinses)

cold rinse
hot wash with tide to the "1" line/cold
cold wash/cold rinse
dry on medium 60 min

how much would it cost?
using numbers from MR. Elictricity in 2007 (,
Washing every 2 days for 3 years about $617, every 3 days $411

Not willing to use extra water?

Regular Wash Routine:
cold rinse,
hot wash with 1/4 purex f&c/ cold rinse,
dry medium 1 hour and hope for no stinkies
about $540 for every 2 days and $360 for every 3 days

Rockin' Wash Routine
cold rinse,
hotwash with Rockin Green/cold rinse,
extra cold rinse
about about $579 for every 2 days and $386 for every 3 days. HTH!

All numbers are for energy only, not detergent...

extra cold rinses are cheap. If diapers aren't drying in 1 hour, you can do extra spins in the washing machine, line dry, or consider using flats/prefolds in a wrap cover so they WILL dry faster.

Also from Mr. Elictriciy:

Before Running The Dryer Tips
Once you have gone through the basic dryer check to make sure that your dryer is running efficiently, there are a number of steps that you can make before you begin drying your clothes that can help reduce the cost of running the dryer. You can consider these steps:

Let the clothes naturally dry as much as possible before putting them in the dryer. Simply leaving them in a basket and letting the sit for a few hours after a wash instead of putting them directly into the dryer can save up to 25% on your energy bill. Placing them on an indoor rack to dry first and then using the dryer only to dry them that last little bit and to take out the wrinkles can save up to 75%.

Let the clothes go through an extra spin cycle or two in the washer before placing them in the dryer. The extra spin cycle will take more water out of the clothes meaning that they will dry faster. This is especially true of heavier clothing items such as jeans and towels. These items retain water even after a regular spin cycle.

When drying more than one load, place the lighter garments in the dryer first. This will mean that the dyer is already hot from the residual heat to help the heavier clothes dry more quickly.

When loading your dryer, place similar clothing types together (separate heavy cottons from lighter material clothes) to prevent over drying and wasting energy. This will allow you to dry for shorter cycles with the lighter clothes rather than the same length for all your loads.

Don't overload the dryer. Overloading doesn't allow ample space for the clothes to tumble and they will take longer to dry.

It's also important not to under-load the dryer. Running a dryer for 30 minutes with a single T-shirt in the dryer costs the same as running it 30 minutes with a full load. In fact, it can take longer for smaller loads to dry. If you dry a smaller load, this reduces the tumbling effect within the dryer which can extend the length of time needed to dry the clothes. You want your dryer loads to be full without being overloaded.

Cost per load (top-loader)
A washing machine uses about 0.256 kWh per load. At the national average of 11¢/kWh, that's $0.03 per load for electricity. The machine also uses about 40 gallons of water. At a national average of $2.81 per thousand gallons, that's $0.11. So our costs for electrical and water are $0.03+$0.11 = $0.14, before we consider the cost to heat the water, which we'll do now. The table below includes the $0.14 cost of base electricity + water.
Total cost per load (electricity + water + water heating)
Wash / Rinse setting
Electric water heater Gas water heater
Hot / Warm
69¢ 52¢
Hot / Cold
50¢ 39¢
Warm / Warm
50¢ 39¢
Warm / Cold
32¢ 27¢
Cold / Cold
14¢ 14¢

A front-loading washer costs 7¢ to 34¢ per load, depending on water temperature and heating method.
Your actual cost for all of the above will be different, according to your actual local rates for electricity, water, and perhaps gas, and how much you actually use your washing machine.

Heating the water is most of the energy use
A whopping 95% of the energy used by a washing machine could be going just to heat the water. So you can save a bundle by just just lowering the temperature. You could also get a front-loading machine, which uses about 63% less water than a top-loader (and therefore spend less to heat the water.)
Here's the cost when your water is heated with electricity:

How water temperature affects the price per load
Wash/Rinse Setting
Electrical Use
kWh/load Cost per load Cost per year
Hot / Warm
5.24 58¢ $226
Hot / Cold
3.58 39¢ $154
Warm / Warm
3.58 39¢ $154
Warm / Cold
1.92 21¢ $83
Cold / Cold
0.26 3¢ $11
Electrical cost only (excludes the cost of water, which is 11¢/load.) See how this was calculated.

To put in perspective how wasteful hot water is, washing your clothes in hot instead of cold for a year, uses more electricity than leaving the refrigerator door open 24 hours a day for a year. (Fridge open 24/7: 143 watts x 14.4 extra hours day x 365 days/yr. = 752 kWh.)

Always use cold water for the RINSE cycle. Using warm or hot water for the Rinse cycle doesn't get your clothes any cleaner.

Try using warm or cold water for the WASH cycle instead of hot water. Hot water shrinks your clothes, anyway. Hot water also fades and wears your clothes out quicker.

If you feel that warm water doesn't clean as well for you as hot, then just use a warm pre-soak. Soaking clothes in warm water is usually just as good or better as hot water with no soak.

Use a centrifuge like the Spin Dryer which removes most of the water from washed clothes by spinning them really fast. That means a lot less time in the dryer, saving energy.

Run around the house naked (or let baby). Then you'll have less clothes to wash.

Replace your washer with a front-loading model, which uses 63% less water on average. That's our next topic....

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