Clothes Washer and Dryer: Check   Leave a comment

Yay, we now have a washer and dryer in our new house! I wasn’t sure that I would have time to do the research before we moved, but this is close enough. It helped that I did learn my lesson from the refrigerator search, and I did not do extensive research. As with the refrigerator search, I started by downloading the list of Energy Star qualified clothes washers. Later I realized that I could have saved time by downloading the list from the Consortium for Energy Efficiency since that subset of Energy Star qualified units is what my electric and water utility companies use to determine the rebate amount for buying an energy efficient/water efficient appliance. Then I narrowed the list down by brands that I could find at local stores and volume range, sorted by efficiency, and dragged my husband to the hardware store. (Actually he went off looking at other stuff after a while and let me wander the washer/dryer aisles alone until I had selected my favorites, he’s not nearly as picky as I am!)

We weren’t able to find any information about the capacity of the washing machine at our rental, so we were struggling to find a way to correlate the volume advertised for each model with real world applications. I ended up having to use the advertised descriptions. I ask you, how is “fits 16 pairs of jeans” or “fits 80 XL tee shirts” helpful? I have no idea what the volume of 80 XL tee shirts is. I’ve also never counted items as I put them in the washer so I can’t extrapolate that out to 80 similar pieces of laundry. What I liked was “fits a king size comforter” since I want a washer that will fit a king size comforter.

In a sense, shopping for a washing machine was easier than a refrigerator because we didn’t really care much about the features and they seemed to be less diverse. We just wanted an energy and water efficient front loading washing machine. (Front loaders use less water than top loaders.) In fact, it was a little disappointing to discover that pretty much every model now has a surplus of buttons and options, way too many wash cycles, and digital displays. Sure a count down display may be convenient, but I’m not convinced that it is worth the energy to display it. Granted, in the end it was features that helped us make our selection from my top three in the store, but they weren’t helpful getting to the top three.

In another sense, shopping for a washing machine was more complicated than shopping for a refrigerator because I had to look at both energy AND water efficiency. The Energy Star list made that really easy, though, by including the energy use number, water factor number (gallons of water per cubic feet of clothes), and modified energy factor number (combining energy and water efficiency in one number). I could tell that the Energy Star standard for washing machines needs to be updated, though since 5 of the 6 pages of my final list were tier 3 (supposedly the best of the best). Luckily the standard is scheduled to be updated next year. The top unit on my list was 155% better than the federal minimum and the bottom one was 44% better, so I’d say there’s plenty of room to raise the bar.

What about the dryer? I just the picked the matching dryer for convenience. After all the time spent picking a washer I didn’t have any desire to start comparing features on the dryers. There’s no Energy Star or anything similar for dryers, which surprised me at first since clothes dryers are such energy hogs. After I read the explanation on the Energy Star website, though it made sense. Apparently all dryers use pretty much the same amount of energy. Think about it, the job of a dryer is to create waste heat, so how can you make it more efficient (inefficient?)?

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Posted August 11, 2010 by mayakey in energy use, home, shopping, water use

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