Am I doing something wrong (laundry related!)

(154 Posts)
alabasterangel Thu 25-Oct-12 09:44:59

Trying to cut down on our mega combined fuel bills of almost £200 p/m for a three bed terraced house. (trying to cut down/save money in all ways really, but thats fodder for another thread I think!). Several friends have commented that I seem to do a lot of laundry; I estimate for a household of me, DH, DD(4) and DS(1) I seem to do probably on average 3 or 4 loads a day. I don't think I over-launder, but friends with similar households all seem to say they only do one or maybe two loads max. Heres what I seem to do in a week and in () the loads of washing it creates:

Bedding for our bed, daughters bed, cot. One bed change a week each. (3)
DS's Grobags, prob has a clean one every third night, totalling (1) per week.
Bathsheet and towel each for me and DH, bath towel each for DC's, bathmat. Change weekly (3). Handtowels for both loo's I change twice a week, teatowels prob three a week, so totalling (1). Swimming once a week so 4 lots of swimwear, two grown up towels, two small towels (2).
PJ's and vest for baby (clean every day, so 7 lots) and PJ's for daughter who invariably gets breakfast down hers and it's rare she doesn't have a clean pair most nights, totalling (2). DS's daytime clothes, plus the invariable changes due to leaked nappy, spilt food, bibs etc (1). DD's non-uniform clothes, if shes going to play somewhere after school, weekend wear etc (1)
5 work shirts for DH, 5 t-shirts he wears under work shirts (cold office!) (1)
DD's school uniform, polo shirt, skirt, tights, vest, cardigan. Rarely a day passes where I don't need to wash the whole lot. She's only little and gets lunch on herself, or glue, snot, paint, etc! probably (2) a week although I do have to wash her burgundy cardis seperately as they run.
My work clothes, I have a clean top/blouse every day and try to make trousers last two days, so would guess (1) total a week
non-work clothes for me (wear two nights running, jeans and top for example), weekend clothes, and same for DH (2). PJ's for me, again I invariably end up with baby breakfast and am a bit fussy and change every second night. DH's PJ's once a week so (1). DH is also going a lot of work on the house and garden, and I seem to get a load of work clothes at the end of the weekend too (1)

So thats 21 loads, before anything "incidental" happens - bed accident (rare, but still occasional), changing cot sheets daily when baby has a snotty cold, someones coat needs a wash through, washable sofa covers if something gets spilt, matress covers need a wash, etc, etc.

I wash everything on a 30 minute fast wash where possible. I use a 40 degree slightly longer wash for bedding and towels, and do an extra 10 minute 1600 spin to get them as dry as possible.

And I know I'm a bandit for doing it, but 80% of all the above goes through the dryer too - so therein lies my theory that a significant portion of our fuel costs derive from the above! The dryer is often on for 2+ hours a day.

I'm tight as a wedge with the heating so don't want to start drying stuff on the radiators. Do heated airers work? I don't want another outlay of £30 odd when I really can't afford it unless I will be able to recoup that relatively quickly.

There must be something I can do to cut this back or significantly save money. Anyone got any bright ideas?

madmomma Wed 14-Nov-12 22:24:42

when I do a wash I just shove as much as I can into the washer. Is that wrong? I know you can overload a dryer, but thought you just filled the washing machine drum confused

Masses to read, but I wonder if anyone has pointed out that fabric conditioner on towels means they take forever to dry, because the conditioner 'coats' the fabric so the water can't evaporate.

And I agree with the suggestion to turn your dining room into a drying room.

DragonMamma Wed 07-Nov-12 15:25:13

That's a lot of washing OP!

There's 4 of us, my DH plays football twice a week and DD is in school, there's also DS who is a messy eating toddler. DH also washes his work uniform too.

We do this in a week:

1 dark uniform wash
1 light uniform wash
1 light wash
1 coloured wash
1 jeans and joggers wash
1 towel wash (I have a 6kg drum and it holds 2 thick bath sheets and 2 handtowels or 1 normal bath towel)
Ours and DD's bedding get washed together on a 60c wash and DS's grobags and bedding get left to build up as he has loads of sheets from his reflux days when they were changed a few times a day.

I have a utility room where there boiler is so I bought some of those over the radiator things and shove them on the top of the internal doors and dry as much as possible that way. What can go on the radiator does and what we aboslutely can't dry goes in the tumble!

Gas and electric are £100 a month together and we live in a 3 bed semi. DD's match up to useage for once too

MrsDeVere Thu 01-Nov-12 14:56:20

I do a lot of washing too.
I wouldn't put swimmers in the washer or dryer though. I would hand rinse them and hand up to dry. They are designed to dry quickly.

I save up my whites for one wash on a friday. DS3 wears white polo shirts to school so I have a full load by then.

I save towels and tea towels for one wash and do them on hot once a week.

I know its a pain having drying hanging up around the place but if you are struggling with fuel bills it is worth it. Finish them off in the dryer. We have an A rated one but I try not to use it too much.

We recently bought one of those heated airers from Lakeland. We are lucky because we have a large wet room. I stick it in there during the day and it has the added bonus of drying out the dampness in there.

Do you have any space for one at all? They do fold up flat and cost a few pence and hour. You can get loads on one.

CouthyMowEatingBraiiiiinz Thu 01-Nov-12 14:50:00

That's only about 4/5 loads less than me, and I wash my towels more often (have 4 towel loads a week) AND have 4 DC's not two.

How small is your machine? A larger machine saves on water, electricity AND laundry powder. I use the sane amount of powder in my 8kg machine as I did in my 5.5kg one, and the clothes are still clean and fresh.

I'm hankering after the 10kg machine I have seen, it will be my next one when this one dies.

I think your capacity is too small for your family size tbh.

Fluffycloudland77 Thu 01-Nov-12 14:44:35

So hows everything going here?

youngermother1 Tue 30-Oct-12 01:21:28

have you had the meter checked?

bubbles1231 Tue 30-Oct-12 00:45:43

Family of 4 here. 4-5 loads a week. if in doubt weigh your washing by standing on the bathroom scales with it.
All washing goes out on the line even in winter, as long as it's not raining. Even getting it partially dry will help. Consider having a pulley put up in your kitchen/utility room. The air near the ceiling is much warmer.

ScarePhyllis Tue 30-Oct-12 00:37:29

Ahaaa ... That sounds plausible.

If it does turn out to be that, do try to get the money from the bills back. The mention of a small claims court might prod them into action.

But I think you said the high gas bills were even before the boiler was installed, didn't you?

SpookleDust Mon 29-Oct-12 23:48:01

I feel your pain re. gas usage sad

Over the last 12 months our gas usage was 32,042kwh (electricity was 6621kwh). I think we live in similar type houses too. Ours is a 3 bed Victorian semi with very high ceilings, cellars and single glazed sash windows. I have been so pissed off with our crazy gas bills that I have tracked it fastidiously over the last 12 months (at times taking readings on a daily basis). I have a spreadsheet to show the levels of usage per month and have found our gas usage rockets in the winter months so ultimately it is just heating the damn house that costs all the money.

We have a digital thermostat set to get the temp up to 18C for an hour or so in the morning and the same in the evening. The rest of the time it is set to 15C so I am generally in thermals and a fleece at home during the day.

My current mission is to tackle as many draughts as possible but without spending serious money on replacement double glazed sash windows (also in conservation area) I can't see a way of significantly reducing our gas usage during the winter without getting hypothermia. It's shit and more so when the tariffs keep going up (have just changed tariff again to be on the cheapest at £180 dual fuel per month).

Our cheapest gas usage over the last 12 months was 43p per day (inc standing charge) over the summer, most expensive was £4.83 per day over the winter shock.

We can't have wall insulation (no cavity) and we have adequate loft insulation. I know this as someone from Mark Group came out this week to see if we could get anything done to help with reducing bills/increasing insulation. Instead I am hoping to thermally-line blinds and curtains to keep as much heat in as possible. Hope you have some joy with the boiler - I'll be watching with interest for any developments.

marquesas Mon 29-Oct-12 18:56:38

That's good news about the reduction in electricity usage and intriguing about the boiler.

There's definitely something wrong with the gas - please keep us updated.

Fluffycloudland77 Mon 29-Oct-12 17:53:58

smile

alabasterangel Mon 29-Oct-12 17:40:53

Update, and a hint of what the problem MIGHT be.

When we had the new boiler installed we got four estimates. Two of which said we could do with new piping from the meter to the boiler as an 'ideal' set up. In the end we used one of the ones who didn't (can't even recall why).

I've just come across a thread on money saving expert (thanks for that tip!) where someone with the same brand of boiler was also having extortionate bills which didnt tie up with usage. Turns out the piping between the meter and the boiler is too narrow and too long) causing the boiler to need to draw more gas/work harder, and therefore causing a much higher gas usage than should be required.

The poster had asked for Worcester Bosch to come out and investigate who confirmed that indeed it was the pipes. I've a fairly strong thought that the same comment was passed to us, that our pipes were 'borderline' and the distance was some ridiculous quantity, so that ties up too. I think I might get one of the plumbers back who gave us the estimate involving pipe work and ask his opinion again, plus also ask Worcester Bosch to come out too (it's under guarantee).

Obviously if that is the case, we could perhaps have recourse to insist that this piping is upgraded by the people wh fitted the boiler (could be deemed as unsafe, could be deemed as bad practice etc according to this other case). I suppose you could look for recourse for loss on the bills over the last year, but frankly as long as its sorted and the work didn't cost anything I wouldn't really care. So away from home tonight, but I will be chasing when I get back and can access phone numbers tomorrow!!

Fingers crossed!!!

blooblies Mon 29-Oct-12 17:00:08

hope you don't gave a leak?!

alabasterangel Mon 29-Oct-12 13:24:59

Boffinmum - that's a good idea. I might actually do that, at least with the boiler, and I might ask the firm who fitted it earlier in the year to come back out and proffer efficiency advice......

alabasterangel Mon 29-Oct-12 13:23:35

No it's a cold fill machine and its correctly plumbed - plus the boiler is in the kitchen and you can HEAR that it is only kicking in when you a) run hot water or b) have heating on. The only other thing to use gas in the whole house is the hob.... And believe me, I don't cook that much!

I've no idea, really! I can see a dramatic reduction in elec usage over the past week due to the laundry but as scarephylis says she lions share of the bill is the gas. Eon are due to call me back later in the week. We've all been poorly with a horrendous d&v type episode over the weekend but as soon as I feel human I'll be chasing them. Spoke to my sister in law over the weekend and she has her heating on 24/7 (her house is like a furnace, I can't breathe in there!) and even her bill is lower than ours!!!!

ParsingFancy Mon 29-Oct-12 08:17:40

Ah, hang on. I have seen a cold-fill washing machine wrongly plumbed in before, so it was filling with hot. That would trigger the combi right enough.

And would still be using electric because the machine would be taking the cooled water that's been sat in the pipes.

vodkaanddietirnbru Mon 29-Oct-12 07:59:46

she says she has a combi boiler and no water tank. I cant work out why it would be so high either

ScarePhyllis Sun 28-Oct-12 23:10:41

You might get the electricity bill down to a normal looking amount simply by using the tumbler less then. It's the gas bill that really intrigues me though - do you keep the water tank heated at all times?

Theas18 Sun 28-Oct-12 18:52:39

4 here now (2 teens 2 adults) and I do probably a white and a dark 2xweek with 1 or 2 other loads ( bedding etc) . I do however change face flannels often ( single use for me - paranoid about my contact lenses!) and hand towels whn wet or grubby ( even teens leave dirty prints in thrm - ick!). There may e a rugby wash in there too but ds does that.

Friend of mine with 3 sporty kids and a gym going husband has 2 machines as she can't keep up - eek!

ParsingFancy Sun 28-Oct-12 18:45:21

If you still suspect the meter, you could get one of those clip-on monitors I linked earlier and see if the readings match the Smart Meter readings. They're not designed for forensic testing, but might give you an indicative result if you're desperate.

BoffinMum Sun 28-Oct-12 16:16:28

If so inclined, you could actually do the maths, and write down every single appliance, then calculate kilowatts/therms actually used, then cost it up yourself and see the degree of disparity for yourself. Then the supplier would have to examine what was going on and perhaps carry out technical tests in order to establish whether there was an error at their end of operations. Especially if the Ombudsman made them.

BTW FWIW once I lived in a flat and they mis-labelled our meters, so I was billed for the leccy of the bloke upstairs and vice versa, until we rumbled something was up. My dad did this for us (he was an Electrical Engineers) and it got them investigating things properly (he also got them testing current levels and if I recall correctly we found there were spikes that meant I was getting more than 216-232v at times, which caused problems with my wiring).

JulesJules Sun 28-Oct-12 11:48:39

It does sound like there is a problem with your meter, so I hope you can get that sorted out.

Haven't read whole thread, so apols if someone has already suggested this - but the Miele man told me that you never need more than a tablespoon of washing powder for a load of washing.

MousyMouse Sun 28-Oct-12 11:38:30

regarding the gas: is your washer a warm fill mashine? if it is it will take hot water from the boiler instead of heating it up itself.

alabasterangel Sat 27-Oct-12 21:12:10

Scare Phyllis, yes, with the electric. Because we only use gas for the rads and water, and hob, it's not so clear.

I've used 50% less elec in the last 48 hours than in the preceeding days..... Due to the laundry no question!

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