Energy and carbon impact from residential laundry in the United States

Jay S. Golden, Vairavan Subramanian, Gustavo Marco Antonio Ugarte Irizarri, Philip White, Frank Meier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


To address climate change and other are sustainability imperatives, the private sector has launched various initiatives that are aimed to evaluate and reduce the impact throughout the life cycle of consumer products. Recently, multi-national retailers and manufacturers have initiated a unified approach in creating sustainable indexing programs for the products they make and sell. Often overlooked in addressing pressing sustainability imperatives such as climate change are the consumptive patterns and impact of consumer goods during the consumer use phase. This article presents an empirical study of the consumer use phase of laundry care with a specific focus on electricity consumption and carbon dioxide emissions. By understanding the climate change impact associated with the consumer use phase, innovations in the manufacturing phase as well as life cycle benefits of different technologies and consumer actions can be explored. Incentives offered to consumers on appropriate technologies used in this phase can be examined to identify the effectiveness of change-agents. Our results indicate that a carbon dioxide reduction of 105 MMT and electricity savings of 142 thousand GWh can be obtained by optimizing and modifying technological and consumer behavior strategies. This is roughly equivalent to removing 12.1% of the 135.4 M passenger cars in the United States per year or taking 23 coal power plants off the grid. In addition, more than 60% of water consumption (512 billion gallons) while laundering can be reduced through these strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)53-73
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Integrative Environmental Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Carbon dioxide
  • Climate change mitigation
  • Residential laundry care
  • System analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • General Environmental Science
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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