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Finding the best choices for environmentally friendly appliances

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Walk in an appliance store these days and you'll see Energy Star appliances everywhere. Going green is far more trendy than in previous years. The only downside with this ever-growing trend is that consumers have to find out how to make going green with appliances effective.

Let's face it. Doing laundry is a pain in itself. Many of us can remember cringing at an Easter pink dress shirt that used to be white before it went into a washer.

So adding more knobs to turn, temperatures to set and buttons to push can make the laundry experience even more of a hassle. Or not.

The biggest perk of using energy-efficient appliances is they not only clean clothes with less wasted water, but they also help ease money concerns from exorbitant electricity and water bill rates.

For a single person or college student, washing six loads biweekly is reasonable. That sums up to 144 loads per year. But for a family, those rates can triple. (Energy Star reports that the laundry count is approximately 300 loads per year.)

And the life cycle of one T-shirt takes up 700 gallons of water on its own. So imagine how much more wasted water is used on an entire load.

Check out these tips for simplifying the purchasing process for energy-efficient household appliances.

Energy Star certified clothes washers use 20 percent less energy and 35 percent less water than a regular washer.

Look for washing machines with a larger tub to efficiently wash more clothes at one time.

Verify how clothes are rinsed. Some washers use high-pressure water to spray the soap off of clothes instead of allowing clothes to soak, which increases the amount of unnecessary water.

Look for sensors to monitor the water levels and temperature during the spin cycle. Anyone who has cleaned clothes by hand knows it doesn’t usually take a machine full of water to rinse detergent from clothes.

Compare the amount of water that’s used from an energy-efficient machine (ex. 15 gallons) versus a basic washing machine (23 gallons).

Inquire with the sales staff about how many kilowatt hours (kWh) are needed to run the machines. (One kilowatt equals 1,000 watts if it’s easier to measure that by light bulb terminology.) According to Energy.gov, the average clothes washer uses 350 to 500 watts while the average dryer uses 1800 to 5000 watts.

If you wonder what the difference between a front-load washer and top-load washer is, Sears states that a front-load washer is strong enough to handle oversized loads, including jeans, towels and larger comforters. The doors to these washers swing out towards the waist.

Top-load washers are the more common washers that require lifting the door up to add a load. However, appliance stores, such as the previously mentioned appliance store Sears, do have options for oversized loads.

Another useful investment is dual-sensor dryers that monitor the heat inside so that dryers stop when the clothes are dry as opposed to a set time limit. These two-point systems adjust temperatures and may have options to tumble dry clothes to prevent wrinkling.

And now that you have purchased that eco-friendly washer (or dryer), don’t exclude eco-friendly detergent, which uses natural ingredients (no dyes, synthetic fragrances, optical brighteners), that’s hypoallergenic -- less likely to cause an allergic reaction.

Don’t be fooled by advertisements about “brightening” detergent. According to Seventh Generation, these synthetic chemicals just succeed in making fabrics glow around ultraviolet lights but don’t actually lighten material.

Combining energy-efficient appliances with environmentally friendly products can help lighten the load in a consumer's wallet and a laundry basket, too.

This entry was originally written by Shamontiel on May 19 for a recycling company and is republished with her permission on Examiner.

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