Basement/laundry/furnace rooms offer several opportunities to make energy saving improvements.
Upgrade to a high-efficiency furnace
US Department of Energy considerations for Replacing Existing Heating Systems www.energysavers.gov/your_home/space_heating_cooling/index.cfm/mytopic=12320
Minimize the distance between the water heater and the bathroom/kitchen.
Insulate your water heater.
Set your water heater temperature to no higher than 120°
US Department of Energy considerations for water heating www.energysavers.gov/your_home/water_heating/index.cfm/mytopic=13030
Upgrade to a high efficiency, ENERGY STAR, front-loading washer and a high efficiency, Energy Star dryer
Add ceiling and duct insulation.
Seal air leaks around doors, windows, electrical outlets.