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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.