Clothes Washer Buying Guide
A quick guide to strategic product selection
Top 4 things to look for:
- Efficiency: efficiency in clothes washers is measured using the Water Factor rating (lower the better) and Modified Energy Factor (higher the better).
- ENERGY STAR Label: washing machines with the ENERGY STAR label are 37% more energy-efficient and use 18-25 gallons of water per load, about half what un-labeled washers use.
- Front-load: front-load washing machines typically use 40-60% less water and 30-50% less energy than top loaders and have the benefit of faster spin times, which means your clothes dry faster.
- Load Size Adjustment: allows you to adjust the water level to match the size of load you require, helping you use only as much water and energy as you need.
- Energy & water savings
You can cut your energy costs by more than a third and your water costs by more than half simply by purchasing a clothes washer with the ENERGY STAR label. These machines are 37% more energy-efficient and use 18-25 gallons per load, about half what traditional washers use. If your washer is more than 10 years old, you’re paying about $145 more each year on your utility bill than you would if you owned a new ENERGY STAR qualified model.
- Front & top-load options
ENERGY STAR labeled washers are available with the front or top load option. ENERGY STAR labeled front-loaders tumble clothes through a small amount of water instead of rubbing clothes against an agitator in a full tub. ENERGY STAR labeled advanced top loaders use sophisticated wash systems to flip or spin clothes through a reduced stream of water. Although the front loader is more efficient, both ENERGY STAR labeled designs dramatically reduce the amount of hot water used in the wash cycle, and the energy used to heat it.
- Efficient motor systems
ENERGY STAR labeled washers feature efficient motors, which spin clothes two to three times faster during the spin cycle to extract more water. Less moisture in the clothes means less time in the dryer and less energy used.
► All washers featured on Eco-rate are ENERGY STAR qualified.
Low Water Factor (WF)
Water Factor (WF) measures water efficiency in gallons of water consumed per cubic foot of capacity. The lower the WF, the more water-efficient the clothes washer.
► Each washer featured on Eco-rate includes Water Factor information. Our Consumption Rating for washers is based, in part, on Water Factor ratings. The higher the Consumption Rating, the lower the Water Factor and more water-efficient the washer.
High Modified Energy Factor (MEF)
Modified Energy Factor (MEF) is a measure of energy efficiency that considers the energy used by the washer, the energy used to heat the water, and the energy used to run the dryer. The higher the MEF, the more energy-efficient the clothes washer.
► Each washer featured on Eco-rate includes Modified Energy Factor information. Our Consumption Rating for washers is based, in part, on Modified Energy Factor. The higher the Consumption Rating, the higher the Modified Energy Factor and more energy-efficient the washer.
Water level, temperature & spin options
- Choose a washing machine that allows you to adjust the water level to match the size of load you require - this will help you use only as much water and energy as you need.
- Look for a washer that includes cold, warm and hot water temperatures so you can wash mostly with cold water and only with warm and hot water when absolutely necessary (water heating consumes about 90% of the energy it takes to operate a clothes washer).
- A washer with a high spin speed option will allow your not-as-delicate clothes to spin at a high speed, making them less wet and reducing the amount of time they will need to spend in the dryer.
Front-loading machines are more efficient than their top-loading counterparts, using 40-60% less water and 30-50% less energy. They also have the benefit of faster spin times, which means your clothes dry faster.
While a larger model will hold more clothes, it will also use more water and energy. On the other hand, a model that is too small will require a lot more clothes washing. Mid-size washers are your best bet to achieve high performance and efficiency.
► Each washer featured on Eco-rate includes size information (listed as volume) in the product's Specifications tab.
To reduce carbon emissions associated with product transportation and to support your local economy, we encourage you to buy your washer from a local (US) manufacturer.
► Eco-rate features where a washer is made and how far it must to travel to get from its manufacturer to you. When information is listed as N/A, it is because we have been unable to obtain manufacturing locations from the product's manufacturer.
Maximize the performance of your washer
- Operate only with full loads.
- If possible, change the level of water or load level depending on how many clothes you need to wash.
- Wash in cold water (water heating consumes about 90% of the energy it takes to operate a clothes washer).
- Activate the high spin speed option (to reduce the amount of remaining moisture in your clothes after washing, thereby decreasing the amount of time it takes your clothes to dry).
- Use biodegradable, high efficiency detergent.
Properly dispose of your old washer
Recycle, sell or donate your washer when it is no longer functional or efficient. Use Eco-rate’s product search tool to find a washer product and then select the “Recycle” tab from the product page. You will then be able to use the Earth 911 search widget to find a local reuse or recycling location for your washer. Click here for an example.
How are washers rated on Eco-rate?
Please click here to discover our clothes washer rating system.
Visit our Forum to ask questions and share your thoughts about innovative, water-efficient washing machines.