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July 2024 EnergyWise Tip: All-In-One Washer/Dryers


 July 2024 EnergyWiseSM Tip: All-In-One Washer/Dryers

By: Energy Efficiency Program Manager Cory Fuehrer


The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s 2020 Residential Energy Consumption Survey indicates that homes in our part of the Midwest consume nearly 9% of their electricity completing laundry. In addition to providing energy savings, all-in-one washer/dryers might provide solutions to other modern life challenges, such as appliance space or electrical circuit limitations. They may even help those who don’t enjoy transferring wet, heavy clothes from the washer to the dryer!


All-in-ones are hardly new. Bendix Home Appliances introduced the first combination washer/dryer in 1953. These single front-loading machines wash and dry clothes in a single, sealed drum. Washing and drying can either be done in tandem or individually. But it wasn’t until the start of the 21st century that heat pump technology was added to make these units highly energy efficient compared to separate washer and dryer pairs.

Washer/dryer combos wash clothes no differently than traditional washers. But those that use heat pump technology for drying provide energy savings of at least 28% for ENERGY STAR®-certified models. Since this technology evaporates the water out of clothes, then condenses that vapor before sending it down the drain, most do not require venting to outside the home.


In 2020, General Electric conducted a survey and found the average consumer leaves clothes in the washer 130 minutes after the final cycle before transferring them to the dryer. Since washer dryer combinations automatically switch between the two processes, clothes won’t linger between cycles because someone forgot to transfer them.


Combination units require much less space than traditional washer/dryer pairs, not only by being a single unit, but also by containing drums 1.6 to 4.8 cubic feet in size. By comparison, traditional dryers may have drums sizing from 7 to 9 cubic feet. Apartment dwellers often appreciate having that extra space for something else.


Some units connect to a standard 110-volt outlet. Though standard clothes washers require the same, an additional 220-volt outlet must be available for traditional electric dryers. Not to mention, traditional electric dryers may have a different plug configuration than an existing 220-volt outlet accepts.


All-in-one washer dryers are easy to find on-line or at appliance and other big box stores. However, do they really make doing laundry easier? Because some of their benefits may also be drawbacks, that may be a wash (haha).


In one test comparing a manufacturer’s all-in-one heat pump washer/dryer against one of their traditional washer and dryer pairs, the all-in-one machine only consumed half as much energy. While washing took about the same time to complete, the all-in-one washer/dryer took 3½ hours to dry the 12-pound laundry load. The traditional dryer dried the same size load in less than an hour. Sequencing laundry loads can also be more time consuming. Since washer dryer combinations require users to first wash, then dry loads, they cannot simultaneously start washing the next load until the first is finished with the drying cycle. This can create unending wash days in larger households especially considering combination units often have smaller drums.


Another consideration is how washer/dryer combinations use heat pump technology to operate. While drying, they exhaust cool air as part of the process. This can have an effect similar to an air conditioner. While often appreciated in the summer months, that can be a different story in the winter. A final note to think about: combination units generally cost more to purchase ($1,000 to $3,500), although all-in-one units with heat pump technology may qualify for some tax rebates.


Your local utility, in partnership with Nebraska Public Power District, proudly provides the power you need to keep up with the laundry. For other ways you can run your home or business efficiently, contact your local utility or visit www.energywisenebraska.com for more ideas.

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