Energy Efficient Washing Machines

Washing machines are big energy consumers. You don't run them all the time like the heating, but when they are used they expend a lot of energy heating water and spinning your clothes.

You can really save money by getting a more efficient machine even when running at the same temperature - one consumer organisation calculated the running costs of the best machine on the market today to be around a quarter of the least efficient machine available when doing a typical four loads a week on 40 degrees. Over a decade you might save $400 or 260 when using the most efficient machine, plus you'd also help save the planet from unnecessary carbon emissions.

There's not just energy to consider in a washing machine however. The water use of the machine can increase costs if your water supply is metered and even if it isn't the use of water unnecessarily isn't good for the environment. Again in tests the best machines used about a quarter of the water that the least efficient ones used, which is equivalent to 52 baths of water a year or one a week. This can soon add up if you're in an area with expensive metered water.

Of course not everything is about how efficient the washing machine is, but also down to choices you can make about how you run it. The extra rinse function on washing machines is really there for those who have extra sensitive skin which comes out in a rash if there's chemicals from the wash still in their clothes. If you're skin isn't particularly sensitive you can safely avoid this, or you could switch washing liquid or powder to one which doesn't react with your skin. Sometimes switching between non-bio and biological washing liquid does the trick.

You can also reduce the temperature you wash on. Most people still wash at 40 degree Celsius/104 degrees Fahrenheit when 30 degree Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit) works as well for most when used with powder or liquid designed for this temperature.

The best thing you can do though is always put in a full load by waiting a bit longer between washes, and avoiding putting a single item in for a wash. If you need to wash a single item such as a dress to go out in or a shirt for an interview consider hand washing instead, it's quicker and will use far less energy.

Generally washing machines will give a guide to how much energy they use a year, be careful when comparing though as manufactures can use different number of washes to each other, although generally they use the same measurement between their models so finding the most energy efficient by each manufacturer is relatively easy. A tip some use is to look at the washing machines on UK based websites where there's a rating system given before buying the same washing machine for use in the USA.

Some washing machines have two rather than one drum, which can make them more efficient at cleaning your clothes and also speed up your washing.