People Are Using Twice As Much Energy On Laundry As They Need To, Study Reveals


People in UK households are using twice as much energy as they need to for their laundry, according to new research.

Six out of ten British households are using their washing machines at high 40 degree temperatures, which uses more than double the energy they need.

This is despite huge improvements which have been made by detergent makers which allow for effective washing at cold temperatures.

The study revealed, if every household turned their washing machine down from 40 degrees to 30, it would save enough CO2 which would be the equivalent of powering 1550 homes for an entire year.


If every household in Greater London switched from 40 degrees to 30 degrees for the year, they’d save enough energy to rotate the London Eye 2.3 million times.

Despite these staggering figures, one in five Brits said they’ve never thought about turning the temperature down on the washing machine.

Nearly one third of people say this is because they don’t believe lower temperatures will effectively wash their clothes and a quarter of people say it’s because the automatic setting on the washing machine is ’40’.


The research, conducted by Ariel and the Energy Savings Trust, is being used to try to encourage people to participate in WWF’s #PromiseForThePlanet campaign, for Earth Hour.

WWF is trying to encourage people to make these small lifestyle changes to help the planet, such as using reusable coffee cups and turning their washing machine down to 30 degrees.

For every single promise which is made online using the hashtag, or via the WWF website, Arial will donate £1 to WWF, to the value of £50,000.

Speaking about the partnership between Ariel and WWF, Scott Popham, Senior Communications Manager for Ariel said:

At P&G we understand the impact the small changes in everyday behaviours can have on the wider environment and it’s a vision we share closely with WWF-UK.

Ariel has been designed specifically to work at lower temperatures and has been at the forefront of driving consumer behaviour change.

Our long running ‘Turn to 30’ initiative calls for exactly the kind of behaviour change that can have a big environmental impact and it’s why we’re partnering with WWF for #PromiseForThePlanet

We are proud to be supporting WWF-UK and this year’s Earth Hour to encourage as many people as possible to promise for the planet.

Ariel use a specific formula which allows the detergent to work in low temperatures, so consumers can turn their washing temperature down but still come out with a brilliant clean.

The Ariel ‘Turn to 30’ campaign was first launched in 2006 and has now witnessed a large rise in the number of people washing at lower temperatures.

Specific formulas, with a hydrophobic system, work well on the toughest of stains, even in the cooler temperatures like 30 degrees or lower.

Gareth Redmond-King, Head of Climate and Energy at WWF-UK, said:

Our planet is in desperate need of action to tackle threats to our nature and environment; but we do know what the solutions are to those threats.

One promise from a person might seem like a small step, but the collective power of many people making small adjustments can have a genuine impact.

We are grateful to have the support of Ariel to help people make an Earth Hour #PromiseForThePlanet.

Ultimately, by more people getting involved, we all stand to benefit.

Jane Goddard, Group Director of Marketing and Business Development at Energy Saving Trust, added:

We’re backing the #PromiseForThePlanet campaign for Earth Hour to raise awareness of the fact that small environmental actions add up.

Through our partnership with P&G we’re urging millions more people to wash at 30.

If every household in the UK switched from 40 to 30 degrees throughout the year, it would be the equivalent to the annual emissions from around 1550 typical homes.


Top Reasons for Washing Above 30:

‘It cleans better’ – 44.31 per cent.

‘It gets stains out better’ – 35.62 per cent.

‘I don’t believe lower temps clean them properly’ – 30.10 per cent.

‘It’s the automatic setting on my washing machine’ – 26.25 per cent.

‘It gets the whites whiter’ – 18.56 per cent.

‘I never thought about it’ – 18.39 per cent.

‘It’s what my mum always did’ – 12.37 per cent.

‘I’ll probably have to wash them again to get them clean’ – 9.03 per cent.

‘I think they would smell bad at lower temperatures’ – 8.36 per cent.

‘I’m a messy eater and I need the heat to get the stains out’ – 3.51 per cent.

‘I didn’t know washing them at a lower temp saved energy’ – 3.34 per cent.