If you’re looking for ways to save money (and unless you’re rich, who isn’t trying to scrape whatever we can these days?), you might have thought about unplugging appliances you’re not using.
It’s commonly believed that leaving something plugged in, even if it’s turned off, will still draw power, thereby increasing your power bill needlessly when you’re not even using it.
Washers and dryers are prime examples of an appliance you might consider unplugging when not in use since you only need them when you’re actually doing laundry, which hopefully isn’t all day.
So if you’d like to learn the truth about unplugging these power-hogging appliances and if it will really help lower your bill, read on, because that’s exactly what we’re looking into today.
Here’s If You Should Unplug Your Washer and Dryer When Not in Use:
Not all appliances draw power when turned off, but most modern ones with clocks, timers, and other features do. Older washers and dryers may not draw power when not in use, but the majority of those currently on the market do, and unplugging them when not in use can help lower your energy bill.
Is it Safe to Keep Washers and Dryers Plugged in When Not in Use?
As long as you’re observing proper safety precautions like surge protection, keeping outlets and cords away from moisture, and so on, it’s certainly not dangerous to leave your washer and dryer plugged in.
So, it’s entirely possible and safe to do what the vast majority of Americans do and just leave them plugged in all the time.
But safety concerns aren’t why you’re thinking about unplugging them, are they? While it may be safe to leave them plugged in, it may not be cost-effective to do so.
Regardless, if you are concerned about safety, please read your washer and dryer manual in full and observe any safety precautions contained within.
Additionally, keep all cords and outlets away from water, don’t use appliances with damaged cords or plugs, and if possible, use only outlets with Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs, identifiable by the big red “reset” button on the outlet).
Does Unplugging a Washer and Dryer Save Electricity (and Money)?
The full answer to this question is slightly more complicated and has a caveat or two, but the short answer is: yes, it very probably will save you electricity (and therefore money).
Now for the caveats. While it is true that many appliances will continue consuming power when plugged in, even if turned off, this is not a universal truth and depends on what features the appliance has.
Digital displays, clocks, timers, and most notoriously of all, standby modes: these are the kind of features that tend to lead an appliance to draw power even when it’s not being actively used.
“Smart” devices in particular tend to be insatiable power hogs whether in active use or not.
These days, almost every appliance has something in it on the long list of “convenient” features that cause it to draw at least a trickle of power 24/7 if connected to an outlet.
Therefore, the major exceptions are usually either very cheap, low-end appliances that don’t include any of these features, or older appliances made before such features were common in the first place.
This logic definitely extends to your washer and dryer, appliances that are very much not immune to the feature creep plaguing the market right now.
So, to finally get to the point: if you’re using a very old or very cheap, basic washer and dryer with no digital displays, smart features, etc, etc, then you can probably just leave it plugged in and it shouldn’t draw any extra power.
However, if your washer and dryer aren’t ancient relics or bottom-shelf models, odds are good they’ll draw some power even when turned off, and in this case, unplugging them will lower your power bill, at least a little.
Should You Unplug Your Washer and Dryer When Going on Holiday?
Absolutely, yes! In fact, unplug every appliance you can (except your refrigerator and freezer! Unless you completely cleaned them out of perishables); there’s no real reason not to, and it could save you a chunk of change on your next bill.
While there’s room for debate on whether the savings from unplugging things on a daily basis is worth it, there’s really no such ambiguity if you’re going on vacation.
The savings when you’re actually at home using everything can sometimes be insignificant (but still worth pursuing if every penny counts!), but when you’re not even there? Whole different story.
The worst welcome home gift you can get after a nice vacation is an electrical bill that’s bigger than you expected. Why pay to power devices on standby mode that you’re not even going to use?
With all that said, a couple of caveats to consider before unplugging everything before your next vacation:
- If there’s any food in your refrigerator or freezer, leave them plugged in for obvious reasons. However, if you completely emptied them out, then feel free to unplug.
- If you’re leaving pets at home and have devices like auto-feeders and the like, leave them plugged in for equally obvious reasons.
- If you hire a house/pet sitter, let them know you’re unplugging everything, and to unplug anything they use when they’re done, like an entertainment system.
- If you have things plugged into a power strip, you can simply flip the switch on the strip, no need to physically unplug the strip or anything plugged into it!
Check out our blog here about should I unplug my microwave when not in use?
Do Washers and Dryers Last Longer When Unplugged?
Unplugging your washer and dryer when not in use might save you money on your power bill, but it probably won’t affect the longevity of the devices.
This is because it’s usually “extra” features like digital displays, clocks, and the like that are drawing power when not in use, rather than the devices’ primary functions.
That being said, there’s a chance that leaving them plugged in might lower the lifespan of those extra features.
For instance, whether or not you leave your washer/dryer plugged in shouldn’t affect the longevity of their primary functions (washing and drying), but it might affect the longevity of the fancy digital clock included in the model.
This won’t really matter if the “extra” features don’t actually affect your ability to use your washer/dryer to, well, wash and dry things; it might be annoying if the clock goes out, but they still do what you need them to do with your clothes.
However, with fancier “smart” appliances, it’s a stickier situation, as a failure of the digital interface actually could prevent you from using your washer and dryer for their intended purpose.
But at any rate, this is mostly speculation on our part. Ultimately, there’s not enough hard data to say whether unplugging your washer/dryer will improve their lifespan, but it certainly won’t hurt!
Is it Bad to Unplug Your Washer and Dryer?
Only if you do it wrong! As long as you observe basic safety precautions, there is nothing dangerous or wrong with unplugging your washer and dryer.
When you unplug them, be sure that your hands are dry, and firmly grasp the plug itself; do not yank it out by the cord.
The main issue with unplugging your washer and dryer all the time is that the plugs are often difficult to reach.
Depending on how you have your washer/dryer set up, plugging them in and unplugging them regularly might be prohibitive, especially if you have to actually move the appliances to reach the outlet.
So if you plan on unplugging your washer/dryer when not in use, you might have to put some thought into their setup.
If you can arrange the appliances in a way that their power cords and the outlets they’re plugged into are within easy reach, that would be ideal.
If you get frustrated, it might be tempting to plug the appliances into a power strip within easier reach so you can just flip the switch on the strip, but please do NOT do this!
While it would definitely be more convenient, it is not safe to plug your washer and dryer into a power strip as they use far too much electricity for a standard strip to be safe, and will almost certainly cause a surge if you try.
Can it Hurt to Unplug Your Washer and Dryer Every Night?
The only thing it’s going to hurt is the sensibilities of your power company, which would rather extract as much money as possible from you.
That being said, it could also hurt you, but only if you’re not careful; just observe the usual safety precautions when interacting with energy-intensive appliances and you should be fine:
- DON’T unplug your washer or dryer when they’re turned on or in use, wait until they’re done and turn them off first.
- DON’T handle electrical plugs or cords with wet hands.
- DON’T yank it out by the cord; firmly grasp the plug instead.
- DON’T plug your washer/dryer into a power strip.
- DO use a GFCI outlet (standard in all new homes, identifiable by the red “reset” button on the outlet) for your washer/dryer.
- DO keep the area around the appliances, cords, and outlet clean and dry.
Basically, as long as you exercise good judgment and safety, it never hurts to unplug your appliances when you’re done with them for the day.
Whether or not it will save you money, and exactly how much money it will save you if it does, depend on a lot of factors and are far from set in stone. But it certainly doesn’t hurt to try!
Read this blog here about should you turn things off before unplugging?
- Mr Appliance: Does Unplugging Appliances Really Save Electricity?
- Trulia: 6 Electronics You Should (and Shouldn’t) Unplug