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Community and Q&A

New Washer / Dryer Selection Dilemma

C L | Posted in Energy Efficiency and Durability on

Seeking advice on energy (& water) efficiency related to selection of a new washer & dryer.

Washer:
Is it important to ensure the new model is Energy Star rated?
Is it important to ensure the new model is HE (High Efficiency) which I understand is related to reduced water use?  Are all impeller (non-Agitator) top load models HE or are some impeller models  non-HE?  There are impeller models advertised as HE, but not identified as such on the mfg own website, so this is confusing.
Is it important for the new model to be both HE and Energy Star rated?

I’m looking at top load models, since all front loaders I’m familiar with require the door to remain open between uses.  Keeping the washer door open also requires keeping the laundry closet bifold doors, which are directly in front of the w/d, open, and that notion won’t pass out of committee.  There is no requirement for other specific features or options.
Within the top load options, those that are both Energy Star rated AND purport to be HE seem to have about a $400 premium.  HE only (not energy star) models are priced comparably to regular models.
– My house does about 3 loads of laudry/week
– Electricity rates in my area are on the low side ($0.10-12/kwh)
– Water rates in my area are on the high side 
I’m leaning toward HE non-energy star, but could be convinced otherwise.

Dryer:
Is it important to ensure the new model is Energy Star rated?  (I’m surprised by how many are not)
Lots of articles on here about Heat Pump dryers but stock is low, and the premium is about $1k.  The opportunity to seal the dryer vent is compelling, but I’m not sure I would ever recover the cost premium and think this money is better spent on pending solar PV and/or associated battery (next year).  There is no requirement for other specific dryer features.  Suggestions to forgo the dryer and line dry will also not pass out of committee.

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Replies

  1. 1910duplex | | #1

    Dryers use a lot of electricity -- I can see the usage pattern on my bill. And I have an energy star dryer. I think the energy star is more important for dryer than washer?

    According to DOE
    ENERGY STAR certified clothes washers use about 25% less energy and 33% less water than regular washers.

    But to really save on electricity with the dryers, you do have to go heat pump, which are $$$ and maybe don't get clothes that dry, given they don't vent?

    1. Stephen Sheehy | | #5

      My heat pump dryer gets clothes dry. It takes a long time, but I'm not running a laundromat so don't really care how long it takes.

  2. Jeff Fisher | | #2

    Something to consider is that the spin cycle of the washer determines how wet the clothes are when you start to dry them. The lowest spin models get the cloths only a little more than half as dry as the highest spin models.

    I *think* HE washers are generally relatively high spin washers. But I'm not sure that is guaranteed.

  3. Expert Member
    Malcolm Taylor | | #3

    CL,

    It depends what your aims are. If you include the embodied energy and cost of having to periodically replace a high-tech washer, then it might be worth considering a Speed Queen.

  4. Walter Ahlgrim | | #4

    Have you seen the newer top load machines in person?

    We found my wife was not tall enough to remove items from the bottom of the newer top load machines.

    I do not believe the top loads remove as much water from the clothes making the dryer use more energy.

    Consider a large drying rack and not using the dryer for most items.

    Walt

    1. DCContrarian | | #7

      In a well-sealed house that moisture then has to be removed from the house. In winter time the latent heat to vaporize the water comes out of the building envelope. In summer time the AC has to remove it.

      1. Charlie Sullivan | | #19

        Yes, but that's much less energy than would be used by anything but a heat-pump dryer, at which point it's comparable and the specific comparison depends on the season, weather, and the HVAC system.

        You can also put the drying rack outside if you want to.

  5. Stephen Sheehy | | #6

    My heat pump dryer gets clothes dry. It takes a long time, but I'm not running a laundromat so don't really care how long it takes.

    1. AnonymousUser | | #8

      Is your heat pump dryer whirlpool? Im considering the whirlpool WHD560CHW

      1. Stephen Sheehy | | #9

        Yes, a Whirlpool. Six years, no issues.

        1. AnonymousUser | | #13

          Thank you, Stephen!

  6. Will R | | #10

    Our Miele drys our large load in 1h15 minutes. 1h36 minutes for king sheets. This time will actually go down as the dryer auto adjusts to how quickly the clothes are drying. Clothes come out Bone dry. Bad for clothes dry just like my old 30 yo gas dryer that would torch clothes. You can of course set it to normal to prevent that.

  7. Kent Thompson | | #11

    My front loader only requires the door be open ~1", in fact, when closed with gentle force it "sticks there". It really only adds an inch or so, which may or may not fit your space and consensus decision-making process. In any event, most of the new washers (top or front) are load sensing which to my understanding can greatly reduce water use if you don't run full loads. +1 for ventless dryers, I love my whirlpool...expect longer drying times and cleaning two filters, but it's no big deal.

    1. C L | | #12

      PLEASE tell me what brand it is that "sticks" with the door at +-1" open!
      1" extra would fit and I believe would be considered. The objection was a front load door swinging open and hitting a bifold door trying to close, which is a reasonable concern that I share. But if I can overcome that....

      In regard to the ventless dryer, I believe those are either condensate dryers or heat pump dryers. They are both about $1k premium. I can't see ever recovering that...seems the extra $1k is better spent on the future solar PV, both in terms of economics for me and planetary resources. Am I missing something?

      1. Trevor Lambert | | #14

        I think the payback period can be reasonably short on a heat pump dryer. Depends on your climate zone and how much laundry you do. Aside from using about half the energy per load, you're also avoiding bringing in all that unconditioned air every time you use the dryer, plus the 24/7/365 hole in the thermal envelope of the house. Not everyone can use solar panels, and most have a practical limit to how many panels they can install, so it's often not an either/or scenario.

        1. AnonymousUser | | #15

          Trevor, is your heat pump dryer a whirlpool? R u glad u got it? Im considering the whirlpool WHD560CHW. GBA poster Stephen is pleased with his. And you?

          1. Trevor Lambert | | #30

            It's a Whirlpool, and I have mixed feelings. It has a design flaw which allows lint to get past the filter and onto the heat exchanger. You have to take the whole thing apart to clean it every so often. Aside from that, it's held up well for about 4 years. I don't know if the current models have the same flaw.

      2. Kent Thompson | | #27

        It's an LG WM3997HWA, which is a washer/dryer combo, but I imagine the door design is similar with their washer only models. We just use it as a washer and have a ventless heat pump dryer. A testament to the nerdiness around here that we have both flavors of condensing dryers. I'd go to a showroom with a measuring tape and see what will work for you.

        I think the cool part about the heat pump dryer is that it both uses substantially less energy AND doesn't depressurize your house while operating. All that hot air blown out of your house is replaced with unconditioned air. A few more solar panels might make more sense....I think a BEopt software could answer that question for you if you have an afternoon to learn it.

  8. John Woloshyn | | #16

    So, with a heat pump dryer, the moisture from the clothes ends up staying in the building envelope as I understand it. I see this as problematic especially for tight building enclosures where it can be somewhat difficult to maintain low levels of indoor relative humidity in winter time especially in cold climates (zone 7 in my case) where we need to keep our indoor RH as low as 30%, maybe even lower in some instances. The way I see it is that a heat pump dryer compounds the need for controlled ventilation which also requires additional energy input by having to bring in unconditioned air, and/or run a dehumidifier. Am I off base here or does anybody else see this added humidity as problematic?

    1. Trevor Lambert | | #22

      It doesn't stay inside, it condenses into liquid water and goes down the drain.

  9. Will R | | #17

    You’re off base. It goes down the drain as condensate.

    1. John Woloshyn | | #18

      Thanks Will.

      1. Charlie Sullivan | | #20

        I fact, I once ran a heat pump dryer empty to test it, in a humid room, and it collected some condensate in its condensate tank--it had dehumidified the room.

        1. Will R | | #21

          That’s funny Charlie, I hadn’t thought of that.

          No problem John.

  10. Paul Kuenn | | #23

    We love or Miele! I can run it off the solar battery at night it's so efficient and only needs a 15A breaker. Dries all our loads just fine. A bit longer than the old 30A electric but it's worth the weight and so much kinder on the clothes.

    1. prometheanfire | | #24

      Are you able to put a king sized blanket in it?

      1. Will R | | #26

        We have king linens. It’s fine. Not sure what type of blanket but it will probably work. The linen setting rolls the drum Different ways to make sure it doesn’t get tangled.

  11. Paul Kuenn | | #25

    That would probably be pushing it's limit. Perhaps not. We have queen.

  12. John Clark | | #28

    Where is the water heater located in relation to the washer/dryer? What I would do is measure how much water it takes for your existing washer to receive hot water. Reason being is that it's not unknown for HE washers use so little water that it shuts off before you receive hot water. Water temp is a real complaint among some HE washer owners. Some washers will have an AUX water heater.

    Personally I would avoid top-load washers which don't have an agitator.

    Front load washer doors just need to be ajar but I can see how the closet folding doors would get in the way of opening the washers/dryer door. It would be incredibly aggravating to have to load/unload with a door which doesn't open more than 100 degrees.

    1. C L | | #31

      Thanks John.
      RE: Water temp: The hot water line from the water heater to the washer is approx. 22' of 1/2" Pex Uponor (includes horizontal & vertical portions of the run). Google indicates 1/2" Pex has a volume of 0.00961/lf. Thus, the system will deliver approx 0.21 gallons of tempered water in the line before delivering hot water. Rounding up, I figure they all use more than 1/4 gallon per load. My pipes are 100% insulated so some heat will be retained in the pipes for the duration of the cycle. I think this is ok, but welcome comments.

      RE: Avoiding top load washers which don't have an agitator: Why?

      RE: The door: The geometry is such that when the w/d closet bifold door is open it should not interfere with the swing on a front load door and the front load door should be able to open at least 90-100 degrees. But perhaps they need to open more - will take a look at that. The concern is having the front load washer door open between loads will interfere with closing the bifold closet doors, and that won't fly.

      1. PBP1 | | #33

        I think a top loader with an impeller ("not an agitator") is a gimic, it's still a moving component that contacts the clothes and there's no guarantee that the toroidal circulation of clothes will be maintained throughout a cycle. A front loader benefits from gravity (many clothes get heavier with water to increase "m" as F=mg) and the water level can be less than in a top loader. Front loaders rely on anti-foam agents/non-foaming surfactants in the detergents, because excessive foam tends to reduce/eliminate the effects of gravity. In front loaders, foam reduces cleaning drastically - in other words, gravity enhances/is necessary for cleaning. I ran thousands of loads of laundry/stain test strips in Miele front loaders while developing new detergents. Also ran tests on wear of clothing (100s of cycles). Front loader tech is proven, effective and highly controlable. A heavier front loader washer can be better at handling unbalance (all front loaders have unbalance control). I can put a single small cotton rug (not recommended) in the Miele and the machine won't move an inch.

  13. PBP1 | | #29

    Miele machines tend to be solid, with high spin speeds. Another parameter is max temperature, which can relate to required power (voltage, breaker rating). As mentioned, having a hot water supply close, helps. My Miele washer is about 4' from a buffer tank, but has its own heater too. My heat pump dryer is Blomberg, which works fine. In Europe, it's common to iron clothes and many have roller irons. Having some moisture in the clothes helps with ironing. Top load washers tend to be the hardest on clothes, when I moved from Europe to the US, the top loader shreaded some of my clothes. It has taken decades for the US consumer to reach the level of the European consumer when it comes to lanudry. In Europe, consumers tend to buy higher quality clothes and wash them less often - and in many places vented dryers are banned (fire hazard). The extra money can be worth it, especially if you care about your clothes and know how to "do" laundry (i.e., the purpose of the machines).

  14. Bill C | | #32

    Once we looked at the energy bill and the hourly usage, we could see the spike from the dryer. So I immediately went online and purchased a drying rack where we dry 90% of our washed items. Towels need to go through the dryer or they air dry really crispy. Problem solved - let nature do the drying.

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