Reduce Your Utility Bills With A Good Washing Machine

Nowadays, with fresh water becoming scarce, energy costs shooting up, and population levels booming, there is a great need to use less energy and water with everything we do, including the way we wash clothes. This applies to all laundry users - hotels and resorts, hospitals, laundromats, and home laundries alike.

U.S. Energy Star Labels stack up to mean energy savings, with money often saved too.
U.S. Energy Star Labels stack up to mean energy savings, with money often saved too. | Source

Manufacturers have responded to the need by designing more efficient clothes washers and dryers.

Governments have responded by devising stricter manufacturing standards and labels (EnergyStar) and by passing laws that require the phasing out of inefficient appliances sold by stores.

Water and energy suppliers have responded by educating the public and by encouraging purchases via rebates and, in some cases, free installations. How will you respond?

Low Flow Washing Machines Save

The sooner you switch to a low flow washing machine, the sooner you'll start saving money. You'll save on water bills, energy bills, and sewer bills (if billed by amount of water used).

Utility rates are going up all across the country, so retrofitting now will save you the higher rates on water and energy you would use otherwise. Incentives like rebates and installations are available now from energy and water suppliers, but won't be in the future. And just as good, your linens and clothes will start lasting longer as soon as you treat them better in the way you wash and dry.

Laundromats in U.S. provide both top loading machines and front loaders.
Laundromats in U.S. provide both top loading machines and front loaders. | Source
Source
Top-Loading Agitator
Top-Loading Agitator

Top Loading Machines

In the United States you can find both top loading and front loading machines, although the energy efficient top loading machines seem to be more prevalent. One of your main choice differentials will be the machine's shape and how well it fits into the type of space you have available.

If you have more room horizontally than you do vertically (like under a cupboard or clothes hanging bar) and the laundry room is narrow, you'll want to set the washer and dryer side by side. In that case, the top loader could be your best bet. Top loaders won't take up valuable aisle space in the narrow room when the door is open. And they also enable a person to add items during the laundry cycle without water spilling out.

Front Loading Machines

Front loading machines have a smaller footprint overall. They use more space in front to open the door, but dryers can be stacked on top of the machine (or underneath), instead of using up space on the side. On the other hand, if you don't have vertical space, but have plenty of walking space in front and counters with room beneath, you can place them side by side under the counter.

Both types of energy efficient machines can save up to 30% of electricity and 55% of water, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The front loader has a little more clothes room than does the top loader.

How Do Washing Machines Save Water?

With the older, top loading machines you push your clothes down into a cylindrical drum, fitting them around an agitator that swishes back and forth to mix water and clothes. The agitator can be set at different speeds for different types of laundry. When water drains from the drum, it drains out the sides, which leaves a little water on the bottom and the clothes fairly wet.

The newer top loaders have no drum. They moisten the clothes by shooting water up through them as the drum spins. Having no agitator leaves more room for clothes. Having the lid on top means you can drop forgotten pieces of clothing in after the cycle has started.

Front-Loading Drum
Front-Loading Drum

In energy-efficient front loading machines you put your clothes inside a cylindrical drum that turns. The drum tumbles the clothes and water top to bottom, round and round, so they mix together well. Because the clothes are tumbled, rather than soaked, this method needs less water than the agitator type.

In addition, when the water drains, it drains down through holes in the bottom, helped by gravity, so clothes end up drier after the spin cycle than they do with the older machines. And since there is more room without the agitator you can wash more clothes at once. Once you've started the cycle, though, you can't add more clothes without water spilling all over the floor.

Look carefully at the Energy Guide label to see how much electricity an appliance uses.  Although this label shows energy for water heaters, you'll see a similar one on many washing machines and can use it to compare.
Look carefully at the Energy Guide label to see how much electricity an appliance uses. Although this label shows energy for water heaters, you'll see a similar one on many washing machines and can use it to compare. | Source

How Do Washing Machines Save Energy?

In the older top-loaders, the agitator and outer drum are driven by a heavy electrical gearbox and its related parts, which uses energy and is absent in the front-loader. Water is also recirculated from the bottom of the washer to the top using an electric pump, which is not necessary in a front-loader. These differences result in a savings of electricity, which may or may not be offset by other factors.

Because the front-loader uses less water, the energy (gas or electric) that would have heated that water can be substantial . . . like up to 90%, if you wash with cold water too. In addition, clothes end up drier after the front-loader spin cycle, so they take less time in a dryer to finish the job. This saves even more electricity, and wear and tear on the clothes as well.

The EPA estimates a savings of 30% in energy with the newer machines. Although many manurfacturers do not post the amount of electricity used, many are now starting to, now that customers are looking for that information. Check the machine to see if there is a bright gold energy saving sticker and use it to compare efficiency.

Maytag MVWC360AW EcoConserve 3.6 Cu. Ft. White Top Load Washer - Energy Star
Maytag MVWC360AW EcoConserve 3.6 Cu. Ft. White Top Load Washer - Energy Star

This washer is 3.6 cu. ft., which means it holds a little smaller load than average. If you stuff it too full, the clothes will wrinkle. It runs more quickly - 50 min., as compared with over an hour for other models.

 
Maytag MHW6000XG
Maytag MHW6000XG

This front-loading washer is digitally controlled and simple to operate. It's spin cycle is faster than most washers, which results in a shorter drying time for the clean laundry. The machine is highly rated and the price is good.

 

Change Habits to Save on Utility Bills

  1. Washing only full loads will maximize the use of the water and energy you use to run a load. Depending on how you have washed in the past, you could save two or three loads a week this way.

  2. If you wash early in the morning or later at night, when businesses are closed and less energy is being used city-wide, you can save money in areas where higher rates are charged during peak demand times.

  3. You can also save energy costs by using hot water for heavily soiled loads only, and cool water for the rest.

  4. And you can save a lot by hanging laundry from a line to dry outside, instead of using an electric or gas clothes dryer.

Rebates and Free Installations

Pull out your energy and water bills or go online to the websites of your water and energy providers. By looking at the website and/or contacting someone via phone or email you can find out the following information:

  • What kinds of incentive programs they offer (rebates or installations).

  • What their requirements are for applying for rebates or free installations.

  • When they're likely to be raising energy or water rates next and by how much.

  • Whether sewer charges are a single monthly rate or vary by the amount of water used. If they vary, then you will save money on sewer, in addition to water and energy.

  • Basic savings information, like how much electricity or water can be saved by switching out your washer.

  • Other types of incentives they offer for other types of retrofits.

Here is an example of rebates offered: MWD Washing Machine Rebate

More by this Author


2 comments

whitton profile image

whitton 5 years ago

Great Hub. We have a low-flow washing machine and we love it!


watergeek profile image

watergeek 5 years ago Author

Nice Whitton. I like to see people being proactive about saving water and energy. (And thanks for the compliment.)

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working