Top loading washers wash cycles tend to be quicker than front loaders, but they generally use more energy and water, and are less energy efficient.
Front loading washers can use up to 40%less water and 50% less energy than top loaders of the same capacity. They generally have faster spin cycles, removing more water from washed clothes. Some models have a two-way reverse tumble action for more efficient cleaning. Also, they generally subject clothes to less 'wear and tear'.
Combination washer/dryers are available as:
- 'all-in-one' machines that wash and dry clothes in the same unit; or
- 'stacked' models comprising a dryer stacked above a separate washer, so that the washed clothes need to be loaded manually into the dryer.
Choose a washing machine that has several options for adjusting the water level. A small load should have the option of using a smaller amount of water.
Look for pre-soaking options. Both pre-soaking options and "suds saver" features conserve energy, although the latter option is rare.
Choose a washing machine with faster spin speeds. Higher spin speeds can result in better water extraction and reduce drying times.
Auto temperature. The machine will mix hot and cold water to a preset "warm" and "cold" so that the water is warm enough for the detergent to dissolve and optimally perform. During the winter in many parts of the country, cold tap water can be too cold to wash your clothes well.
Water level settings. Some of the very high-end machines sense the amount of clothing and automatically adjust the water level, but all except the most basic machines offer at least four settings.
Capacity. If you have a large household a larger capacity machine is a must. The front loaders generally hold more because they don't have the agitator.
Energy efficiency and water usage. Since about 85 percent of the energy used to wash an average load of laundry is not consumed in operating the machine, but in heating the water used in it, machines that use less water are more energy efficient. Since the front loaders use less water, they use less energy. The most efficient front loaders use less than half the amount of water used in the average top loaders. Simply washing with cold water, however, will conserve energy and is also recommended for colored and many delicate fabrics.
The re-emergence of H-axis clothes washers on the American market is an exciting development for consumers interested in energy savings and environmental quality. In addition to attractive energy savings, the water savings from these machines is crucial in areas where water is scarce.(Although we sometimes use the terms interchangeably, front-loading and horizontal-axis are not necessarily synonymous: Staber Industries builds atop-loading H-axis machine.)
To understand how horizontal-axis washers use s much less water and energy, consider that in a conventional top-loader the tub must be filled with water so that all the clothes are kept wet. The agitator then swirls the water around to clean the clothes. In contrast, a front-loader needs less water because the tub itself rotates, making the clothes tumble in to the water.
Front-loaders have always been popular in Europe, and in the past few years European manufacturers have increased marketing their products in the U.S.
At present, horizontal-axis clothes washers are more expensive to purchase than vertical-axis washers; however, their substantial energy and water savings translates into big money savings and a quick return on your investment. Depending on your local energy and water rates and the amount of laundry you do each year, you may realize annual savings of$100 or more. If an H-axis washer cost $500 more to purchase than a conventional machine, your savings would be a tax-free return on your investment of 20%.
A growing number of energy and water utilities around the country recognize the benefits of efficient clothes washers, and are offering rebates to consumers who purchase qualifying machines. Call your energy and water utilities and ask if they provide rebates for high-efficiency clothes washers.
Almost all of the energy used by clothes washers is for heating the hot water used to wash the clothes. Only about 10 percent or less of the energy is used by the electric motor that runs the clothes washer. So, the best way to improve the efficiency of a clothes washer is to reduce the amount of water, particularly hot water that is needed to wash the clothes. Also, energy use of clothes dryers is affected by how much moisture remains in the clothes from the washer, so the effectiveness of the spin cycle of the clothes washer is important.
The efficiency of a clothes washer is measured by a term called the energy factor (EF). It is somewhat similar to the miles per gallon for a car, but in this case the measure is cubic feet of washing capacity per kilowatt-hour of electricity. The current minimum allowed energy factor rating for standard capacity clothes washers is 1.18. Energy Star products have an EF or 2.5 or higher. In the future, there will a transition to a Modified Energy Factor (MEF), which accounts for the impact of remaining moisture in clothes on the dryer energy use.
Federal law requires that EnergyGuide labels be placed on all new clothes washers. These labels are bright yellow with black lettering. When you're shopping for the best buy in a new appliance, EnergyGuide labels can save you money.
- Locate the washing machine close to the hot water tank, if possible, to reduce the heat loss in long pipe runs. Insulate exposed pipes.
- Keep your hot-water heater thermostat setting at 120°F. Each 10°F reduction in water temperature will cut the cost of washing clothes by up to 13%.
- Wash most clothes in warm or cold water, using cold-water detergents whenever possible ; rinse in cold. You'll save energy and money. Use hot water only if absolutely necessary. Switching the washer temperature setting from hot to warm could reduce a load's energy in half.
- Fill washers (unless they have a small-load attachment or variable water levels), but do not overload them. In general, washing one large load is more efficient than washing two small loads.
- Don't use too much detergent. Follow the instructions on the box. Over-sudsing makes your machine work harder and use more energy.
- Do not over-wash clothes. Delicate clothes don't need as long a wash cycle as dirty work clothes.
- Presoak or use a soak cycle when washing heavily soiled garments. You'll avoid two washings and save energy.
Pipes required for the washer installation include hot and cold hose bibb valves, and drain hose standpipe.
- Thread standard hose bibb valves into the brass female threaded winged fitting of the hot and cold supply lines. These will connect to the washer with a rubber hose.
- A 2" drain standpipe is installed with a trap above the floor for the waste line. Usually this is between 6 to 12 inches above the floor.
- Install the hot and cold hose bibb valves and drain hose pipe so that they can be reached when the machine is in place. The drain standpipe should always be taller than your highest water level in the machine to add protection from back-up water and siphoning. These are usually pre-fabricated 2 inch pipes (designed to fit into a standard 2-inch drain pipe) that have a built in trap and are available from your dealer in several lengths. Commonly, they are 34" or longer but check your local code* for length and diameter required in your area.
- Hook up the water supply line. Put washers into the washer end of the hose and hand tighten. Then give a 1/4 turn with pliers to tighten the hose to the machine. Connect hot to hot and cold to cold.
- Use a filter washer, with the screen facing out, at the ends that connect to the hose bib valves at the hot and cold water supply lines.
- Set the drain hose into the standpipe. Secure the hose to the drain pipe with duct tape to prevent it from coming out.
- Level the washing machine by adjusting the legs under the machine.
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