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October EnergyWise Energy Efficiency Tip: Clothes Washers


October 2021 EnergyWiseSM Tip: Clothes Washers

By: Energy Efficiency Program Manager Cory Fuehrer

Not all clothes washers are created alike. However, all will eventually face a catastrophic failure when used on a regular basis. If the warranty has long expired or the frequency of repairs is increasing, it may be time to go appliance shopping.

Statistics show the average American family washes about 300 loads of laundry each year, and though Consumer Reports® notes 10 years as being the average length of life, clothes washers should last anywhere from nine to 14 years. When replacement time comes, many shoppers start by focusing on purchase price. This causes some to shy away from high-efficiency machines in favor of conventional models. In doing so, they fail to recognize the savings a high-efficiency washer can bring after the initial investment.

First, these washers reduce utility costs through energy and water savings. When shopping, they are easily identified by looking for the ENERGY STAR® logo. To learn the ENERGY STAR® rating, products must meet strict energy efficiency criteria set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or the U.S. Department of Energy. Available in either front-load or redesigned top-load styles, ENERGY STAR® clothes washers use improved technology to cut energy consumption by 25% and water consumption by 33% compared to conventional washers.

These savings are achieved through use of sensors that reduce the amount of water used to only the amount needed. During the rinse cycle, clothes are repeatedly sprayed instead of soaked in a full tub of water. In the final spin cycle, high-efficiency washers spin clothes two to three times faster to extract more water. Less moisture in the clothes means less energy used by the dryer.

Then consider wardrobe savings by extending clothing life. Instead of twisting and pulling clothes around a turning agitator, high-efficiency washers use sophisticated wash systems to gently flip and spin clothes. This lengthens the life of often-washed items. Because they are so gentle, many models can safely clean silk, wool and other hand-washables.

Next consider detergent costs. While a container of high-efficiency detergent will often cost more than standard detergent, less is needed per load and re-washing clothes is often avoided. Note that regular detergents should not be used in a high-efficiency washer as they produce too many suds in lower water levels. High-efficiency detergents are easily identified by a small "HE" sticker on the product’s label.

Then there are time savings. Load capacities of high-efficiency washers are generally larger than with a traditional washer, partially because they do not contain an agitator that takes up space. This translates to fewer loads. And, remember – although a high-efficiency washer takes slightly longer to complete a load, the high-speed spin cycles remove more water, resulting in significantly shorter drying times – which, again, extend clothing life.

Finally, it is important to realize the useful life of a high-efficiency washer can be extended if installed on a flat surface, not overloaded, and when always using the correct detergent.

Your local electric utility in partnership with Nebraska Public Power District, want to help you make the most of the energy and cost of keeping your clothes looking great! For additional ways you can become more EnergyWiseSM, visit with your local electric utility or go to www.nppd.com.

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