April 2010
Laundry, the Natural Gas Way

Laundry. It's not a fun task, but natural gas can make doing it quicker and more efficient.

No matter what type of dryer you have, they all dry clothes the same way: by speeding up the evaporation of moisture. Some dryers, however, are more efficient than others.

Today's natural gas dryers use electronic ignition systems rather than continuously burning pilot lights to save energy. They also boast many options to ensure your clothes get just the treatment they need.

Multiple drying cycles accommodate different fabrics and levels of dryness; different sizes of dryers ensure they fit the needs of many homes and families, including both heavy capacity dryers and more compact, stackable ones that fit in a closet.

Automatic termination cycles avoid over-drying, which wastes energy and can damage clothes. A moisture sensor measures the moisture left and dries until it is gone or at the desired level. Temperature sensors measure the temperature of the air thatÕs being exhausted to determine the level of dryness.

Water heated with a natural gas water heater gets hot water to your washing machine quickly for optimum washing. But choosing one of the newer front-loading washing machines can ensure maximum efficiency.

Front-loading washing machines have no agitator, which means they have room for more items in each load. They also require less water, using less energy to heat the water. Front-loading models also save energy when it comes to your dryer. Because they spin at a higher revolution per minute, they extract more water from the clothes than top-loading models, meaning less drying time.

While laundry still may not be number one (or anywhere in sight) on your list of favorite things to do, at least choosing the right washer and dryer can save you time and money.

Want a Safer, More Efficient Laundry Room?

Try These Tips

  • Be sure your dryer is vented to the outside Š venting to the inside can cause high humidity levels in your home and leaves lint and dust in your home.
  • Buy ENERGY STAR rated washers and dryers for maximum efficiency.
  • Clean the lint filters after each load. Buildup can lengthen drying time by restricting the flow of wet air through the vent. Lint buildup is also a fire hazard.
  • Don't overload or under load your dryer. For maximum efficiency, dry full loads.
  • Dry several loads consecutively; since your dryer is already warm, it will take less energy to warm up.
  • Avoid opening the dryer door during use; it allows hot air to escape.
  • Choose a front-loading washing machine over a top-loading model.
  • Have a licensed contractor inspect your gas connection and the dryerÕs vent to the outside to ensure there are no leaks or obstructions.

How To: Clean a Dryer Vent

You should already be cleaning the lint screen after each load because a buildup of lint can cause a fire. However, it may be helpful to perform a more thorough cleaning of the vent every once in a while, since the lint screen may not trap all lint.

To do so, unplug the dryer. Disconnect the vent duct from the dryer (this should only involve loosening a clamp with a screw driver). Using a vacuum attachment, vacuum out any lint inside the duct.

If this requires moving the dryer, be sure to check the gas line to ensure it is properly connected and not damaged in any way.

Next, clean the hinged hood cover on the outside of the house to ensure that there are no bugs, plant material or other debris blocking it.

Read other articles from The Walton EMC Gasette:
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