I have enjoyed reading this thread and everyone's opinions on how they handle it. When I lived at home, my mom was really into separating..darks vs. colors vs. whites.
She can't believe it now but I don't even separate. I sorta do..but it depends. I put colors in with darks. I use cold water. Sometimes I will even put white in with darks depending on what needs to be washed. I don't notice them ANY duller. But then again, we don't have any whites that MUST stay white or else we'll die type of thing. I've been washing like this for atleast 10 yrs and I still have a lot of the same clothes.
As for the dryer, I put it on a low setting and I take out jeans and heavy drying items and air dry them. Saves a lot of money. Some items such as baby's bath towels I will dry because they are stiff if I air dry them..also my breast washable pads need to be dried in the dryer or they are stiffer and not as absorbent. I got some balls for my dryer (it says washer but I use for dryer in place of fabric softener and they work well):http://www.wdrake.com/product_detail...OVMTC=advanced
Slowly but surely I'm using less and less disposable products. It's hard since some of them make life so much easier. But in the washer and dryer arena, it's easier to make substitutes.