Look into Energy Efficient Washers and Dryers

Paying a bit more for efficient washers and dryers will reap long-term savings that more than recover the up-front cost.


| December 2006/January 2007



washers and dryers - child looking in the door of a washer

Washers and dryers are fascinating objects in their own right, however much water or electricity they may use.


Photo by Peter Cade/Photodisc Red/Getty Images

Energy-efficient washers and dryers can save you money and reduce environmental damage. Laundry machines account for about 5 to I 0 percent of a typical household's energy bills. Not only can energy-efficient models lower these costs, they also help reduce pollution, including emissions that lead to acid rain and global warming. Efficient washing machines also conserve water.

Making the Right Choice

Consider a front-loading washer. Consumer Reports recommends front-loading, horizontal-axis machines for best all-around performance. Models with this type of axis tumble clothing instead of agitating it-they effectively wash clothing without completely submerging it. Not only does this extend the life of your clothing, it also uses far less water and energy. In fact, tests show that the most efficient of these machines can cut water consumption by about 25 to 50 percent compared with the least efficient, vertical-axis washers rested.

While front-loading washers are more expensive than conventional, vertical axis cop-loaders, you'll typically save $40 to $60 per year in energy costs. The best front-loaders offer gentle action and quiet operation and have ample capacity. In addition, they require less detergent, and their high spin speeds reduce drying rime.

If a top-loader works better for you, some manufacturers offer top loading horizontal-axis models. Other high-efficiency, vertical-axis models are available, but the energy savings are based on the moisture removed during higher-speed spin cycles, not water conservation.

Consider a gas dryer. The major difference among dryers is not in their overall efficiency, but in the type of energy they use to dry the clothes. Gas dryers are generally cheaper to run and have less impact on the environment than electric dryers, generating about 60 percent less carbon dioxide. Gas dryers do cost about $50 more, but their greater energy efficiency will make up the price gap in a year or two.

Insist on a moisture sensor for dryers. Sensors shut the dryer off automatically when the clothes are dry enough and will not overdry them. Dryers with moisture sensors can save energy, cutting carbon dioxide emissions by about 10 percent, according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. By reducing drying rime, sensors also help protect clothing from shrinking and other damage. Again, such dryers cost about $30 to $50 extra, but your savings over time will make up for the added expense. A less reliable option offered on many low-priced models is a thermostat; these simply regulate the temperature in the drum and can allow the dryer to run longer than necessary.





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