THE pressure’s on when it comes to cutting energy bills – and today I’m looking more closely at my washing machine to find some savings.
I tend to stick to the 40°C “express” function when it comes to my ageing 14-year-old Miele – typically just chucking my clothes in for a hottish wash at 40°C and they’re done in 32 minutes.
1I tested whether washing clothes on a 20C can help to cut bills
Given the sharp rise in electricity – I pay the capped rate of 34p per kWh, up from 28p per kWh since last month  – I need my machine to work less hard, produce the same results and cut my bills.
Using my new smart plug, I can see one cycle on the Express setting consumes 0.56kWh – which would amount to 19p.
Yesterday I opted for the 30C “woollens” cycle lasting 40 minutes to see if it makes a difference.
I did notice the washing came out a bit more water-sodden, like it had been spun less.

But not unmanageably so as the sun was shining and it was quite breezy outside.
The clothes were hanging outdoors all day on an airer and not far from being dry by evening, when I bought them indoors to finish off.
My smart plug tells me the machine used 0.33kWh for that cycle, which would work out to 11p – a tidy saving of 8p.
It doesn’t sound much but with two small kids in the house, our machine is in demand. I do at least three loads a week.

So a switch down to 30°C would be a saving of 24p a week, or £12.48 a year, which I will happily take.
But my machine has even cooler settings – including one that uses just cold water.
I decided to give it a whirl, although I had my misgivings.
Surely washing should be done in hot water to kill all the germs and bugs?
I always use a laundry cleanser with my washing and the label says bacteria can survive at temperatures below 60°C, so maybe it doesn’t make that much difference what cycle I opt for.
The cleanser, made by Dettol, says it will kill 99.9 per cent of bacteria even if it’s washed below 20°C, which is reassuring.
After my first ever cold wash, my gear came out freezing but had the same smell of washing powder as it would on any other setting. 
The mud the kids had bought in from the park had gone but the more stubborn food stains were still there.
Truth be told, kids’ clothes stains always need to be pre-treated and scrubbed off before they go in the wash, the washing machine never helps me there.
So with a nice dose of laundry cleanser, I’m happy with my washing done at 20°C.
My smart plug app tells me the 40-minute cold cycle consumed 0.24kWh – costing me 8p.
So I’ve saved 11p on my usual 40°C cycles, which could potentially save me £17.16 a year. 
According to Aerial, washing your garments at temperatures as low as 20°C or as 30°C will protect colours from running and reduce the risk of shrinkage.
It adds 40°C is good for removing tougher stains and heavily-soiled clothes
I’ve decided for now to have two washing bins – one for cold washes, i.e. clothes that only need a light clean, and another for items that could do with a more intensive spin at 40C, such as bed linen, underwear and towels. 

Alongside saving me money, the added bonus is it helps me to go green and takes the guilt out of washing my clothes. 
We also explore if it’s cheaper to use an air fryer, slow cooker, oven or microwave.