July 28, 2014

Buyers’ Guide for washing machines — How to find the best energy-efficient washing machine

Here’s some help for finding a great new clothes washing machine with great energy efficiency.

Written by
Toby Welch

Doing laundry is a tedious task! Wouldn’t it be much more fun with a new washing machine with cool new features that maybe even makes the work a little easier? Here’s some help for finding a great new clothes washing machine with great energy efficiency.

Types

Whether you want a top-loader or a front-loader depends on your specific needs and preferences, so just a couple of words about the differences: Top-loading washing machines tend to have a smaller capacity and less modern features — but they are also less expensive. For stacking, top-leaders are not practical. Front-loading washing machines on the other hand can have a large capacity, they can spin faster (thus taking less time to dry and reducing energy usage), but they are more expensive and the high speed spinning can wrinkle clothes more. A big advantage of the front-loaders is their water and electricity consumption: on average, they only use one third of the water that top-loader are using! Electricity wise, they also use much less. Since a lot of the energy use of a washing machine comes from heating up the water, using less water automatically makes for less energy consumption.

Size

Choosing the right size/capacity for your washing machine is important: It is annoying to run several loads to get your family’s laundry done, so you don’t want it to be too small; if the machine is too big, on the other hand, it’ll take too long to fill up and you’ll waste energy by running the washer half empty. If you recently bought a dryer, the size of your washing machine should be appropriate to that dryer. Since washing machines have a fairly long lifespan, also think ahead: if you’re planning to increase your family size in the near future, better go for a larger model.

Size-wise, front-loaders fit 12–20 pounds of laundry and top-loaders fit 12–16 pounds.

Which size is right for you really depends on your laundry habits: Do you have small kids who constantly get everything dirty? Are you planning on washing big amounts of sheets very often? Ask yourself those kind of question and try to estimate which capacity is right for you.

Different Cycles

Washing machines have come a long way since they only had “warm/cold” and “heavy duty/normal/delicate/perm. press” — modern machines have a myriad of different programs for very specific washing needs. They come with additional cycles like soaking, wool, steam, extra rinsing, and depending on the kind of laundry you have, those might be useful.

Special Features

Modern washing machines don’t stop at a variety of different cycles, they also come with useful features:

Automatic load sensing allows the machine to adjust the water usage based on the amount of laundry in the machine, saving water on smaller loads.

A steam setting is great for sanitizing laundry due to high temperatures.

A delayed start feature is perfect if you want to run the washing machine while you’re not home — for example to have it waiting for you when you get home for work without sitting in the machine all day.

Some high-end machine now come with touch displays and smart phone controls that let you check on the status of your cycle in an app.

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