smart spending

5 ways to slice summer power bills

Washing machines: Full and cold is better
Washing machines: full and cold is better

Jackson Browne was right: You don't want to be "running on empty."

Especially if you're talking about a dishwasher or washing machine. You use the same amount of water and energy whether the machine is full or not.

But with full loads, you get a lot more for your money. And you run the machine less often. Win-win.

Some other ways to save:

  • Do laundry in cold water. Running the water heater -- for things such as showers, dishwashers and laundry -- accounts for about 14 percent of your total power bill, Kweller says.
  • Skip the "dry" cycle on your dishwasher. Either hand-dry dishes as you put them away, or let evaporation do the work for you.
  • If your neighborhood allows it, check out one of those "solar clothes dryers," says Hart. (It's a line stretched between two poles that allows you to hang laundry outside.)

If clotheslines are prohibited in your area, try a discreet drying rack on your back patio or deck. Or, if you're not jonesing for that fresh-air-and-sunshine laundry smell, you can even set it up in a tub or shower stall.

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