About 82% of U.S. homes have a clothes washer. Each of these appliances is used, on average, to wash about 300 loads of laundry per year. On an annual basis, residential clothes washers use more energy than dishwashers but less than refrigerators.
In recent years, appliance manufacturers have developed washing machines that use less water than older models. The average full-sized front-loading Energy Star clothes washer uses about 15 gallons of water per load — and some models use less than 12 gallons — compared to about 23 gallons per load for a top-loading clothes washer without an Energy Star label.
Although there are a few exceptions, most clothes washers fall into one of two categories: they are either traditional top-loading (vertical-axis) models or newer, European style front-loading (horizontal-axis) models.
Front-loading machines cost more than top-loading machines, but (on average) they perform much better:
[Credit for bar graph: ACEEE]
Because of these many advantages, front-loading washers have acquired a dramatically increased share of the market for residential clothes washers in recent years.
In 2007, after testing new energy-efficient clothes washers, Consumer Reports magazine reported that some washing machines performed poorly — in other words, they didn’t get clothes very clean.
Fortunately, the magazine’s latest article on clothes washers (August 2012) reported good news: the performance problems with the first generation of energy saving washers have been solved. The authors noted that “good cleaning, high efficiency, and large capacities are common features of the newest washers.”
If you have a clothes washer, you probably realize that doing a load of laundry involves the use of one, two, or three energy-using appliances:
According to many writers, the most important step you can take to reduce the energy used to do a load of laundry is to switch from hot-water washing to cold-water washing. While following that advice will still…