From pounding clothes on rocks to the introduction of washboards and the ringer, the task of doing laundry has an intriguing history. Electric washing machines came about as early as 1904, precursors to the automatic washing machine, which started rearing its head in the 1930s.
The basic technology of top-loading washing machines remained the same for many years. They utilize a vertical axis drum to suspend clothes in water that requires 35 to 50 gallons per load — picture a 25-foot row of one-gallon milk jugs.
Recently, there has been a burst of new technology changing the way washing machines work, means you now can save significant water and energy with improved cleaning performance. For example, water use in the new front-loading models that meet Consortium for Energy Efficiency Tier 3 criteria use less than half that of a conventional machine.
Without switching to a new model, you still can save a lot of water and energy by washing only full loads. Some other tips include:
■ Use the shortest wash cycle for lightly soiled laundry loads.
■ Pretreat stains on your clothes to avoid washing twice.
■ Select the minimum water volume per load if your washer has a variable water volume setting.
■ Regularly check washing machine hoses for leaks.
If you are in the market for a new washing machine, be sure to take a few minutes to learn about the Consortium for Energy Efficiency Tier 3 models listed at www.watersavingsenergy.com. The models often surpass the EnergyStar criteria in water- and energy-saving performance.
Find information about available rebates at www.mwwater.com or by calling 970-879-2424.
Lyn Halliday is an environmental scientist and owner of Environmental Solutions Unltd. She consults locally on environmental issues and was instrumental in the development of the Steamboat Springs Water Conservation Plan.