What You Need To Know About Washing Machine

Research has revealed that there are clothes washers in about 81% of homes in the US. Yearly, each of these machines washes about 320 loads of laundry. They usually consume less energy than a home refrigerator but more than a regular dishwasher. Generally, the common washing machines are of two main categories: The front-loading or horizontal-axis models and the top-loading or vertical-axis models.

The Two Main Types Of Washers

Generally, top-loading machines cost less than front-loading machines, but they require more detergent and water. However, they are harder on clothes because of the twisting agitator they have, unlike front-loading machines with no twisting agitators. You should note that top loaders spin slower, so they remove less water and this doesn't help reduce the drying time. That being said, because of these benefits, many of the home washing machines sold now are front-loading washers. A regular, front-loading Energy Star washing machine require about 15 gallons of water/load, while a standard top-loading clothes washer with no Energy Star label uses about 23 gallons per load.

A research was carried out by two researchers in California, Lauren Mattison and David Kohn, to measure the amount of water and energy used to wash and dry clothes in 110 California homes. They discovered that the amount of electricity used by Energy Star washers is the same as what other non-Energy Star washing machines used. "Energy is saved by washing clothes with less water and the drying time is reduced by removing more water when the wash cycle ends.

Several writers suggest saving energy by using cold water to wash clothes. It is true that you can save energy by washing in cold water, but Mattison and Kohn reported that the technique isn't as cost effective as it was before.

"Per load, an efficient washing machine should use about 12 gal of water. Of this amount, the part represented by hot water should be small, hot cycles included." It is easy to understand the small savings after considering that even if you opt for the hot cycle, the rinse cycle of most clothes washers still use warm or cold water.

Put Standby Power Into Consideration: Unlike older clothes washing machines, newer models of washers generally have a phantom load that is measurable. This means when they seem to be off, they still use electricity. According to what Mattison and Kohn measured, the average of this standby load per week is 0.35kwh. Usually, a clothes washer uses only 0.20 kwh per laundry load, so homeowners who wash only a couple loads of laundry/ week will discover that a good percentage of electricity their washing machine uses (44% to 61%) is consumed by standby power.

Looking To Buy A New Washing Machine

For homeowners that are energy-conscious and are looking to get a new washer, it is safe to assume your new washing machine will clean your clothes very well. An article in Consumer Reports on washing machines revealed that the first models of energy-saving clothes washers have performance problems but they have now been solved. The article explained that, "the newest models of washers have common features like large capacities, good cleaning, and high efficiency."

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After eliminating the concern of washing performance, it is important to pay more attention to the metrics of the federal government made for rating washing machines' efficiency.  The easiest to recognize is the Energy Guide label which is usually yellow. However, the label includes only water-heater energy and washer energy, not the ultimate energy a clothes dryer consumes, which is determined by the usual efficiency of the spin cycle of the washer. There are two other efficiency criteria of the federal government from which you can get a better idea of the efficiency of a particular washer; they are the Water Factor or WF, and the Modified Energy Factor or MEF.

To calculate the MEF, you'll have to divide the capacity of the clothes washer by the power used for a single laundry load by the clothes dryer and the clothes washer; this calculation should include the energy needed to heat water used for a single load of laundry. Additionally, it is advisable for the capacity to be in cubic feet while the power should be measured in kilowatts hour. The calculation of MEF takes the energy required to dry clothes into account, so it benefits washers with high spin cycle speed. Also, the MEF of a washer determines its efficiency; a higher MEF means the machine is more efficient.


At times like this, government regulations demand that the least MEF of residential washing machines should be 1.26. Also, Energy Star washers should have a minimum MEF of 2.0. The Water Factor or WF on the other hand, is determined by dividing the total amount of water required for a single laundry load by the capacity of the washer. The water is measured in gallons while the capacity is in cubic feet. A low WF indicates that the machine is more efficient. Federal regulations at this time require that the maximum WF of residential clothes washers is 9.5. Additionally, an Energy Star washing machine should have a maximum WF of 6.0. All in all, it is advisable you go for a model that has a low WF and a high MEF. If you want to find out more about this, visit https://thinktankhome.com/

Positive Trends

Washing machines have become more efficient over the last couple of decades. It is a bit surprising that they've also gotten cheaper. An advocacy organization revealed that, "Average energy use has decreased by 75% while real prices have gone down by about 46%, between 1988 and 2010." However, the time newer models take to wash clothes is longer compared to older machines.