Wash & dry

If you’ve ever had to go a few days with­out one of th­ese work­horses, you un­der­stand why wash­ers and dry­ers rank high on the list of most use­ful ap­pli­ances. With so many choices on the mar­ket, choos­ing the right ones can be a daunt­ing task.

Cabin Living - - Appliance Guide -

Front-load­ing washer

This popular style al­lows you to load and un­load laun­dry from the front, rather than from the top. Its larger ca­pac­ity is great for busy fam­i­lies and for wash­ing bulky items. Th­ese units are also known for their su­perb clean­ing abil­ity and their en­ergy ef­fi­ciency. (They use less wa­ter than other mod­els.) On the flip side, some users com­plain about their hefty price tag and musty odors that can form when wa­ter gets trapped inside.

Top-load­ing washer

Friendly on the bud­get, this con­ven­tional op­tion is usu­ally sim­ple to op­er­ate and of­fers shorter wash­ing cy­cles. If you don’t care about fine-tun­ing your wash­ing set­tings ev­ery cy­cle, this may be the model for you. But keep in mind that some users com­plain that top load­ers don’t han­dle heav­ily soiled clothes well, they’re not stack­able, and they’re of­ten too small for a large com­forter or blan­ket.

High ef­fi­ciency (HE) top-load­ing washer

For those who like the func­tion­al­ity of a front-loader but not its draw­backs, the HE top-loader might be the best so­lu­tion. It can ac­com­mo­date larger loads and bulky items, thanks to the ab­sence of an ag­i­ta­tor, and its clean­ing per­for­mance is com­pa­ra­ble to front-load­ing units. It costs more than a tra­di­tional top-load­ing unit, but it’s still af­ford­able. Just watch out for lengthy wash cy­cles.

Elec­tric dry­ers

The most popular type of dryer sold in the United States, an elec­tric dryer of­fers com­pet­i­tive pric­ing and a wide range of so­phis­ti­cated fea­tures. You’ll need a 240-volt out­let plus vent­ing abil­ity. Although you don’t need to go for all the bells and whis­tles, one en­ergy-sav­ing fea­ture to con­sider is a mois­ture sen­sor that will prompt the dryer to power off when clothes are dry. Be­cause elec­tric dry­ers are so ex­pen­sive to run, ev­ery en­ergy-sav­ings de­tail is worth­while.

Gas dryer

Although a gas dryer costs $50 to $100 more than its elec­tric coun­ter­part, it’s usu­ally much cheaper to op­er­ate. In fact, most own­ers of gas dry­ers re­coup the ini­tial cost dif­fer­ence in en­ergy sav­ings within the first year. Keep in mind, how­ever, that gas dry­ers re­quire a sep­a­rate gas hookup. Hav­ing one in­stalled may cost a few hun­dred dol­lars. Gas dry­ers can be fu­eled by nat­u­ral gas or propane, de­pend­ing on the model.

Con­denser dryer

Though they haven’t truly caught on here in the United States, con­denser dry­ers are popular in Europe. Un­like elec­tric and gas dry­ers, con­denser units don’t re­quire an ex­ter­nal vent, so they make sense for some­one who would oth­er­wise end up with a very long vent run. How­ever, keep in mind that con­denser units are ac­tu­ally less ef­fec­tive at dry­ing than vented ver­sions.

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