The average North American household does nearly 400 loads of laundry annually. That amounts to approximately 40 gallons of water per full load. 90% of the cost of washing clothes can be attributed to the cost of heating the water. An energy efficient washer can save you money by reducing the electricity, water and hot water heating requirements of doing laundry. They also spin clothing at much higher speeds, removing greater amounts of water, which in turn reduces drying times.
The latest models of washers can cut energy consumption by 70%, saving you more than $850 over the life of the washing machine (14-18 years) and clean your clothes just as well, if not better. The newest models on the market are 21% more efficient than those models manufactured in 2004. Washers with the ENERGY STAR label are the most efficient, using 35-50% less water and 20-50% less energy per load than other “energy efficient” models. This can be attributed to spin cycle and water reduction improvements.
Clothes washers can come in a variety of sizes and styles. Top-loading washers are the traditional style of clothes washer, loading laundry through the top and using an agitator during the wash cycle.
Front-loading washers have a door on the front and tumbles clothes similar to the way a dryer does, eliminating the need for an agitator. This type of washer only fills the drum partially with water and cleans the clothes as they tumble in and out of water. Not only is this type of washer more energy efficient than top-loading models; cutting water use nearly in half, but it is also more gentle on your clothes. Using a front-loading washer could save as much as 7,000 gallons of water annually. In addition to the water savings, front-loading washers also use approximately 50% less energy than their top-loading counterpart.
Washers can be further categorized by their size – standard and compact. Standard-sized washers are those with a minimum tub capacity of 45L (1.6 cu ft.). Compact washers have a tub capacity less than 45L (1.6 cu. Ft.). The criteria required for ENERGY STAR appliances is based on its Modified Energy Factor (MEF) and a Water Factor (WF).
MEF is measured in Litres/kilowatt hour/cycle (L/kWh/cycle) or cubic feet/kilowatt hour/cycle (cu. ft./kWh/cycle). This calculation takes into consideration the amount of energy required by the dryer to remove the moisture from the clothing.
WF is measured in litres or gallons/cu. ft. This calculation considers the amount of water used each cycle based on the washer’s capacity.
In order for a washer to qualify for the ENERGY STAR label, it must meet or exceed an MEF of 48.45 L/kWh/cycle and an MF of 1.07 L (8.0 gal/cu. ft.). It should be noted that only standard-sized washers qualify for the ENERGY STAR label.
For those who live in smaller homes, you may find a combination washer/dryer to be a good option. These units wash and dry clothing in the same machine. A typical washer/dryer combination requires less energy and water to operate, and in many cases eliminate the need for venting. Best of all, they fit well in small spaces.