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Washer & Dryer Advice: Front-Load!

Washer & Dryer Advice: Front-Load!

September 26, 2007 —

Washers and dryers account for about 10 percent of your household energy bills. Not only can energy-efficient models lower these costs, they can also help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  Saving electricity also reduces the smog, acid rain, water pollution, and nuclear waste produced by power plants.

Clothes washers are also responsible for 22 percent of household water consumption, the equivalent of about 13,000 gallons of water each year, according to the American Water Works Association Research Foundation. An efficient washer can help conserve scarce local water resources and lighten the load on overburdened sewer systems.

If your washer or dryer is more than 8 years old and breaks, consider replacing it with a more energy-efficient machine. Repairs that exceed half the cost of buying a new model are generally not cost-effective.

Whereas conventional top-loading washing machines must be filled with water so that all the clothes are kept wet, resource-efficient front-loading washers need less water because the tub never needs to be filled completely. Both horizontal-axis washers—usually front-loading—and redesigned vertical-axis washers use sprayers to wet the clothes from above or a moving plate in the bottom of the tub to lift and bounce clothes through the wash water. These resource-efficient washers not only reduce the amount of water used to clean clothes, they also reduce the energy required for clothes drying.

The federal government sets minimum energy-efficiency standards for several appliances including washers and dryers, and runs the mandatory EnergyGuide and voluntary Energy Star programs. Beginning in January 2007, all washing machines must be roughly 17 percent more efficient than the minimum allowed today; front-loading washers already meet that standard. The Natural Resources Defense Council estimates that since these federal minimum energy standards went into effect for appliances, consumers have saved some $200 billion in energy costs. The standards have also played an important role in promoting the design and production of appliances that cause less environmental damage.

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