New clothes washers can use one fifth of the energy of those of twenty years ago; but they still are energy-intensive machines.
Energy-Efficiency Clothes Washer Criteria
The energy-efficiency of new clothes washers is measured by their Modified Energy Factor (MEF); this new rating tells us how many cubic feet of clothes are washed per kWh (kilowatt hour). So, the higher the better.
The MEF depends on various factors, namely, 1) the configuration of the washer (top-loading, front-loading...), 2) the washer spin speed, 3) the temperatures and the amount of water used in the wash and rinse cycles.
For energy efficiency, prefer a clothes washer with a high Modified Energy Factor: the best machines have MEFs above 2.
Prefer also a machine with a low Water Factor (a measure of the water use), which is directly related with the MEF.
You can compare two clothes washers by comparing their MEF and WF. In the USA and Canada, look for high energy efficient models in Top Ten USA website.
Top-loading vs front-loading washers
Are newer top-loading clothes washers energy efficient?
Horizontal-axis (front-loading…) washers are typically more energy-efficient than top-loading machines.
New top-loading machines use sprayers (instead of water agitators) to wet the clothes, which improves energy-efficient and provides water savings. But even the most energy-efficient models (there are now Energy Star top-loaders) fall short of the best. Front-loaders are more expensive, but they worth their price.
Are combined Clothes Washers and dryer units a good choice?
Combo clothes washers and dryer units are a poor choice from an energy-efficiency standpoint; prefer separate units.
If you have problems of space, see if you can sit a conventional dryer on top of a front loader… Or mount it on the wall.
The Importance of water consumption
water level controls
Water is an increasingly scarce resource and new high energy-efficient washing machines can use less than 10 gallons of water per cycle - a big improvement, when compared with older models.
On the other hand, the energy-efficiency of a clothes washer is nearly directly proportional to the water it uses… A clothes washer with a low Water Factor (WF) is also an energy-efficient machine: the lower the WF, the more water and energy savings you'll get.
Water savings can be achieved through electronic controls, able to automatically adjust the amount of water to the size of the load…. Consider one of these new models, or at least a clothes machine with a low-water level option, for smaller loads.
temperatures for wash and rinse cycles
When buying a clothes washer, prefer a unit with multiple temperature settings. The temperatures at which they work are critical for energy savings: using cold water will cost you 1/5 to 1/10 less than using hot water.
the spin speed
Spin speed is an important technical feature. The higher the speed, the lower the energy required for drying; thermal drying is very energy-consuming.
top-rated clothes washers & customer reviews
For high-efficient clothes washers look for models with the Most Efficient label (USA and Canada), or the Energy Star or the Energy Guide labels, or other equivalent rating…
Compare their MEF/Modified Energy Factors (the higher the best) and Water Factors (the lower the best). These "factors" depend on features like the spin speed of the machine, wash and rinse temperature options and also on the type of machines (front loading vs. top-loading)...
To select a unit, take a look at the Top Ten USA listings (in USA).
Low-Cost clothes washers
Many low-cost clothes washers are top-loading machines with outdated technology; prefer high-rated-qualified units, even if they are a bit more expensive.
laundry detergent & energy savings
Detergents are very important for energy savings, when using low temperature settings; try different detergents - namely enzymatic laundry detergents, especially designed for cold water - until you find the one that works best for you…
energy saving tips for clothes washers
Buying an energy-efficient clothes washer is very important for energy savings. But savings depend also on the way the machine is used.
- Using cold or warm water instead of hot water, whenever possible; savings by using cold and warm water can amount to more than 50%.
- if your clothes washer has manual settings, select lower water levels for smaller loads (new clothes washers have special automatic controls to optimize the water levels);
- using full-loads as much as possible: you can cut electricity consumption by about 50% by running one large load instead of two smaller ones…