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The US Department of Energy has conducted research into clothes laundering for nearly 60 years. An examination of reports stored in a digital repository at the Department of Energy traces the growth of interest in energy efficiency. Prior to the mid-1970s, this research was confined mainly to studies of decontamination of protective clothing used by agency employees. Starting in 1976, however, work at various national laboratories began to examine laundering from an energy efficiency perspective. Studies in the 1970s include exploration of methods to use solar and geothermal energy to boost washing and drying efficiency and guidance for improving energy use in the fabricare industry and hospitals. Towards the end of this decade, federally funded research began looking at standards for energy efficiency in household appliance. Progress towards implementing mandates related to appliances and communicating with consumers through labelling about these standards are outlined in reports periodically to the present date. Reports of particular interest include a large, community-based study of laundry habits, a detailed plan for improving household energy efficiency on military bases and recommendations for home builders based on climate zones. The reports are not confined to US-based consumers or appliances but include studies based in China and Sweden, among others. While not widely disseminated, the results outlined in these studies provide valuable information for building best practices in both developed and developing countries.

Hustvedt, G. (2011) Review of laundry energy efficiency studies conducted by the US Department of Energy. International Journal of Consumer Studies. 35 (2): 228-236.

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