One way to cut down on your laundry expenses is to wash all of your clothes in cold water. I know for some this may be disconcerting. We think that only hot water will get our clothes clean. With the new laundry detergents geared to cold-water washing, that is no longer true.

Washing your clothes -- even your whites -- in cold water can save up to 90 percent of the energy needed to heat the water. The only thing you have to do is switch the settings on your washing machine to cold. It is also advantageous to use the smallest load setting that will fit all of the clothes being washed. You do not need to have the water filled up to the full load level when you are washing a small load. This change alone will save a family of four about $100 per year.

If you begin to hang dry some of your items, you will save even more. This is a practice that my mother had used for years. She would hang dry most of our clothing. After it was dry, she would put it in the dryer for a short period of time just to fluff it up. The cost to running a clothes dryer averages out to be about 30 cents an hour.

Here are some tips to help you save money on your laundry.

* Use the cold-water setting for washing clothes. * Use the cold-water setting for the rinse cycle. * Don't fill your washer with more water than is needed. * Switch to cold-water laundry detergent. If one is not available, dissolve the powder detergent in boiling hot water before adding it to the machine. * Don't wash laundry until you have a full load. * Conversely, don't over crowd the washer. Leave room for the clothes to agitate. * Wear items like pants, jeans and sweaters a few times before putting them in the wash. * Use towels more than once. Simply hang them to dry after each use for the next day. * Avoid using the permanent-press cycle setting, which uses more water on most machines * Switch to an efficient washing machine, such as an Energy Star front-loading machine, when possible. The laundry detergent for these models, however, usually is more expensive. This can negate the savings of switching over to a new, more efficient model.

For now happy shopping!

Laurie Dixon, TheBAG Lady