Is There Really A Cheapest Time Of Day To Do Your Laundry?

If you want to save money on electricity, it's important to know thy enemy. Heating and cooling units make up over 45% of household electricity usage, but smaller appliances like the washer and dryer also play a role, contributing about 5% of energy usage, according to Perch Energy. In addition to knowing thy enemy, you should also survey the battlefield — i.e., the strain they place on electric companies to keep up during high-demand hours. Running large appliances during peak hours doesn't just take a toll on the power grid and the environment; it can also be rough on your wallet. Peak hours may vary depending on your location, but in general, it's best to avoid washing clothes between 4:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. If you can, you'll often save money by doing your laundry before sunrise or late at night. 

However, peak electricity usage hours are also influenced by the day of the week and the seasons. Learn why you may want to go home during your lunch break to toss a load in the washer, when to wash your clothes in the summer and winter, and other tips to help you save some coin. 

Off-peak times to wash your laundry

Why would the time of day affect the cost of your appliances? Your washing machine and dryer use roughly the same amount of energy every time you use them, but most people's electricity rates aren't static. Instead, electric companies fluctuate the cost per kilowatt depending on customer demand. In the evenings, between 4:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., many people return home from work and fire up their washers, dryers, dishwasher, hot water heaters, and more. Charging customers more during this time helps power companies keep up with demand and deters residents from using high-voltage equipment during their busiest hours. Peak hours in your specific area may vary, but many electric companies will publish this information on their website. If you want to save money, it pays to do laundry outside during slower hours; just don't leave your wet laundry in the washer overnight!

Electricity usage doesn't just vary with the time of day, but also on a weekly and seasonal schedule. Weekends are typically less busy than weekdays because people aren't doing their chores all at the same time in the evening. In winter, try to do laundry at night after most people have turned down their heaters and crawled into bed. In the summer, it's best to do laundry early in the morning, before 10:00 a.m., when air conditioners kick into high gear. Plus, if you wash in the morning, you can take advantage of the bright sunlight and dry your clothes outside. 

Other ways to save

Doing your laundry at non-peak times isn't always possible or practical, especially if you work a typical 9-to-5 job, but there are plenty of other ways to save money on laundry. It's better to do one large load than several small ones, so wait until your hamper is full, and only wash full loads of laundry. With that being said, be careful not to overstuff your washer, as this can wear out your washing machine, and large loads will take longer to dry. Setting your water temperature to cool will also use half as much energy or more than hot water. Finally, you can save money and protect your machine by using less laundry detergent. Detergents are highly concentrated, so you only need about 2 tablespoons per large load of laundry. 

While a washing machine may seem more complicated, the dryer actually uses much more energy, approximately 769 kilowatts per hour, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. One of the best ways to save electricity and money is to take advantage of nature's dryer: good old-fashioned sunlight. Whenever you can, dry your laundry outside on a line instead of allowing it to tumble endlessly in your dryer. If the weather is too mucky for a clothesline, clean out your lint traps after every cycle, toss in a few wool dryer balls, and use an automatic sensor mode that will detect when clothes are dry.