This edition of Ask Meg is reprinted from this month’s Connect newsletter. If you have a question for our energy expert, drop us a line at

Q: I have a bet with my wife and the loser does the laundry. In fact, the bet is about the washer. She says it takes more energy to heat the water than it does to run the washer. I say no. Who’s right?

A: I hope you know how to sort clothes, because you just lost. Water heating consumes about 90 percent of the energy it takes to operate a clothes washer. Unless you’re dealing with oily stains, washing in cold water will generally do a good job of cleaning. Switching your temperature setting from hot to warm can cut energy use in half. Using the cold cycle reduces energy use even more.