90% of the energy used by a washing machine goes toward heating the water, so washing clothes on the cold wash cycle is the most energy efficient way to wash.
In terms of saving energy, many modern washing machines have specific “energy-saving” cycles to choose from. In general, though, the majority of energy is used in heating water for wash cycles. Cold/cold cycles use much less electricity than hot/warm cycles — usually over ten times less. Beyond the heating of water, gentle cycles are shorter and less vigorous, therefore using less energy to run the machine itself.
It depends on what you are trying to clean and what type of soil is on the clothing. Cold water cycle and delicate (which is short and less energy to run) are more energy efficient. You can also hand wash and line dry clothing to maximize the energy savings.
There is talk of a waterless (essentially) washing machine that may be available this year – which would be even more effcient!
IF they are available to you, newer machines will have more cycle options, as well as most likely being more energy efficient.
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