Truth: Look for the Energy Star Label

Newer dryers are no more efficient than old ones, which is why the federal Energy Star program doesn't rate them. New Energy Star—rated washers, on the other hand, use an average of 40 percent less energy than standard models. Most of the savings stem from the fact that they use less than half the water, and heating that water accounts for 90 percent of a washer's total energy use.

To up the efficiency of new—and old—washers, wash and rinse on cold, says TOH plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey. He's been doing it for 15 years—through years of soccer and football with two sons. "Modern detergents are great," he says. "They work just fine with cold water." Energy Star washers offer one other energy advantage: They spin better, making drying more efficient—though not as much as hanging your duds on a clothesline.
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