A large part of the running costs for your washing machine comes from heating the water. Washing on a warm cycle can use up to 10 times as much energy as a cold wash - that's an extra 20 to 40 cents for every single wash. If you prefer warm washes, choosing an energy efficient model of the right type and size is particularly important.
Choosing a washing machine
- Select the right size - buy a model that meets the needs of your household.
- Look at the energy and water rating labels to compare models - the more stars, the more energy and/or water efficient, and the less the washing machine will cost to run. All washing machines have an Energy Rating Label which shows you the star rating and energy consumption for a standard cold or warm wash.
- Check spin speed - machines with a spin speed of 1000rpm or higher will remove a good amount of water, cutting down on drying time (and costs, if you use a clothes dryer).
- Choose a model that offers cold wash cycles.
- Check for auto-sensing or load size selection - so you're not using more water and energy than you need.
- If you have a wetback, solar water heater or heat pump water heater - consider choosing a model with a cold and hot water connection for lower running costs and shorter cycle times. Check the maximum hot water-inlet temperature and make sure you have a suitable tempering valve on your hot-water system. Connect washing machines with a single water connection only to cold water.
Top loaders versus front loaders
For many years, top loading machines have been the most popular in New Zealand, but there are some good reasons for considering a front loader.
Top loaders - pros and cons
- Use more water.
- Use more energy on warm washes.
- Tend to wear out clothes faster.
- Have faster washing times (typically 30 to 45 minutes).
- Offer cold wash cycles.
- Generally have cold and hot water connections.
Front loaders - pros and cons
Use less water.
Use less energy on warm washes.
Have slower washing times (typically 60 to 150 minutes).
Are gentler on clothes and usually wash better, although all washers have to meet minimum wash performance standards.
Some only have a cold water connection with internal water heating.
A washer-dryer is a combination of a front-loading washing machine and clothes dryer in a single appliance. They include an integrated condenser dryer that does not release moisture into the room air. The heat exchanger uses water for cooling, which means water is used for both washing and drying. Washer-dryers can be good for compact spaces without room for two appliances. Their drying cycle can take a long time.
Smart use of washing machines
- Save energy by using cold water - do a warm wash every five loads or a hot wash every 10 loads to remove any dirt and detergent that may build up in your machine.
- Wash a full load - rather than several smaller loads.
- Adjust the water level - to suit your load size.
- Try to group clothes - by fabric, colour, and how dirty they are. For example, wash a whole load of lightly soiled items with cold water, rather than adding a pair of overalls that need a heavier cycle and a warmer wash.