Making the right choice when it comes to purchasing a washing machine or tumble dryer could save you plenty - of both water and electricity.
There was a time when getting your clothes clean was a relatively simple affair. You got whatever you could afford that would fit in the space in the laundry. These days the onward march of technology and a new awareness of issues like water consumption and energy use have given us rather more to think about. And when you’re coughing up anything from $500-$3,000 dollars for a washing machine and from $350 to ten times that for a dryer, it really pays to know what you are looking for.
Features to look for Washing machines
Keep in mind that top loaders are cheaper and faster, and you can sling in extra washing at the last minute. But they generally cost more to run and wear out your clothes faster.
Economy, cold wash cycles, load sensing or load size selection all allow you to ensure you are not using more water and energy than required. Woollens, delicate and hand wash cycles are also handy to reduce wear on more delicate clothes.
Machines that spin at 1000rpm or more remove a lot of water and cut down drying time, but may crease your clothes. So ideally choose a machine where you can select spin speed. Some machines will now tumble or agitate to re-arrange an unbalanced load. This avoids returning later expecting a completed wash to find a machine stuck half way through the job.
There are three basic types of clothes dryer: the ‘vented’ ones that work like a big hair dryer in a box, ‘condensing’ models that use a heat exchanger to remove the water and tend to heat up the room they are in, and more expensive heat pump dryers that cycle warm air through the clothes, then cool the air in another part of the dryer to condense off the water.
Vented units tend to be the most cost-efficient to buy and run overall and are probably the best choice as long as you have somewhere to vent the damp air to the outside. If you are a heavy dryer user look for models with auto-sensing to avoid frazzled clothes and wasted power.
Always read the label – on your machine as well as your clothes
All washing machines and dryers now have to carry an energy rating label that gives a star rating and the energy consumption for the machine doing a standard cold or warm wash. When comparing similar sizes and types of washing machines, the model with the most stars will be the cheapest to run.
When comparing different sizes or types of dryer, for example a standard versus condensing model, ignore the stars and look at the annual energy consumption numbers. The model with the lowest energy consumption will cost the least to run.
Many washing machines also carry labels showing how much water they use.