Choosing the right washing machine and knowing how to use all its features can make a difference to your wallet. With rising energy costs, finding a machine with a low purchase price and high efficiency can be difficult; here are some tips on what to look out for.
Choosing a washing machine
Considering which appliance is best suited for your needs and budget is often the first point of call when looking for a new washer. There are two basic machine types, front loaders and top loaders, and a host of other features to choose from, each with their own price tag. Below are a few pros and cons for each to help you get started.
Advantages of front loaders
- Often more efficient, therefore cheaper to run
- Can save water
- Washing results are often better
- Can be stacked with a dryer to save space, or the flat top used for storage
- Often have higher spin speeds, reducing drying time
- Some models have additional features such as steam cleaning and stain removal settings
Advantages of top loaders
- Many provide a choice between small and large washes
- Often come with a cheaper price tag
- Can interrupt a wash to add and remove clothing
- It’s easier on the knees and back when loading and unloading the machine
Things to think about when buying a washing machine
Most importantly: The running cost
The lifetime cost of running the machine can be calculated as follows:
Purchasing price + (annual running cost x number of years)
For example the lifetime cost of a $550 washing machine, with an annual running cost of $167, used for 9 years would be:
$550 + ($167 X 9) = $2053
The lifetime running cost should be used as a rough estimate when deciding what type of machine you should buy. Like most electronic appliance, washing machines are prone to using more energy the older they get. You can compare individual machine’s lifetime cost easily using the Smarter Choice Calculator.
4 other factors to consider
- The average machine is about 6 to 7 kg, which should be enough for a typical family of four. If you live alone or as a couple, buying a smaller machine could be more cost effective.
- How many energy efficiency stars does the machine have? The more stars, the less the machine should cost per wash.
- Higher spin speeds use more energy, but can reduce drying time, which is especially important if using a clothes dryer.
- Whilst obscure brands may cost less initially, post-warranty they could be harder to get parts for, so may end up costing more for maintenance.
Using a washing machine efficiently
Once you find the right machine, how you run it will affect your utility bills. From spin speeds to half loads, every setting can affect your overall efficiency.
4 cost effective ways to use your washing machine
- It’s a good idea to think about the kind of garments you’ll be washing. Using the right settings for each type of load will determine the temperature and wash cycle, which in turn affects your bills.
- A high-end machine will usually contain sensor technology that can weigh the load to calculate water use based on the cycle selected and even control foaming levels. If you’re machine doesn’t do this automatically, it’s a good idea to learn how to manually adjust the water level and know how much detergent is needed for each load type.
- According to TreeHugger.com 90% of energy used in washing clothes is used when heating the water. Washing in cooler water therefore saves lots of energy.
- Using the eco setting will reduce how much time, energy and water is used. It’s not only good for the environment but also reduces the impact on your wallet.
If the above sets your head into a spin cycle, writing a check-list of ‘must haves’ and knowing about the different types of machine and their respective features could help you make long term savings. In addition, knowing how to utilise all the settings puts all the research into practice, so you know the best machine for you is working with maximum efficiency.
Finally, for the keenest of energy savers, how about this pedal powered washer!