Energy Efficient Washer and Dryer

How to Buy An Energy Efficient Washing Machine and Dryer

Doing the laundry is an essential task to daily life but have you ever considered the environmental impacts? Read on to learn how to purchase the most energy efficient washing machine and dyer.


Energy efficient washing machine

There are two basic types of washing machines: top- and front-loaders. Frontloading washing machines (also known as H-axis washers, due to their horizontal axis) are hugely more energy efficient. Front-loaders are about three times more efficient than conventional, toploading washers, both with respect to water and energy use. Front-loading washers clean better, and are far gentler on your clothes, resulting in hundreds of dollars of savings on new apparel, in addition to the energy savings. Also, good front-loaders achieve higher spin cycle speeds, resulting in drier clothes from the washing and therefore lower bills on drying, as well (or faster dry times, if you hang clothes to dry). Many US states, cities, or utilities offer rebates for the purchase of highly efficient washers or dryers, so be sure to check in your area.

Savings: An average family has about 380 loads of laundry per year, using about 39 gallons of water per full load with a conventional washer. This accounts for nearly 15,000 gallons, or 15 percent of US average household consumption. A front-loading washer can save you over 60 percent of this water. Additionally, you will save about $580 worth of detergent, and several hundred dollars worth of clothes over the life of the washer, which were not included in this payback calculation.

Carbon Buster/Miser Recommendation: Replace top-loading washer with front-loading model when shopping for a new machine.

  • 5-year savings: $334, 3,300 lbs. CO2, 540 kWh of power, 13,000 cu. ft of natural gas and 37,000 gallons of water.
  • Life-time savings: $734, 7,200 lbs. CO2, assuming life of 11 years.
  • Incremental cost: $53. New cost: $614.
  • Payback incremental: 0.8 years. IRR: 127 %. CROI: 138 lbs./$.
  • Payback new: 9.2 years. IRR: 3.1 %. CROI: 11.8 lbs./$.

Note: If your hot water tank is heated electrically instead of with natural gas, your savings will be roughly double those indicated above. If you don’t want to spring for a new washer, you can achieve significant savings by reducing the temperature of your wash. Always turn the rinse cycle to “cold,” since your clothes will not get cleaner by being rinsed with warm or hot water, and cold water is not as hard on your clothes. Also try using warm or cold water for the wash cycle instead of hot water. Hot water tends to shrink your clothes and fades and wears your clothes out more quickly.

Quick Tip: Front-loading washing machines use one-third the water and energy of top loaders, spin-dry your clothes better, can save you hundreds of dollars in clothing replacement costs.

Carbon Buster/Miser Recommendation: Use warm/cold instead of hot/hot water setting on clothes washer. Note: calculations are for gas heated water. Double savings for electrically heated water.

  • 5-year savings: $74, 600 lbs. CO2, 4,800 cu. ft. natural gas.
  • Life-time savings: $371, 2,900 lbs. CO2, assuming application for 25 years.
  • Incremental cost: $0. New cost: $0.


Energy efficient dryers

Electric dryers vary little in energy efficiency. However, natural gas dryers offer big savings over electric dryers, both in terms of money and environmental benefits. This is due to the fact that dryer energy consumption is mostly due to the need for heating energy (see “How to Benefit from Fuel Switching,” If you are also installing a front-loadingwasher, subtract $51 fromyour five-year savings, as we have already credited 10 percent of dryer savings to the front-loading washer.

Carbon Buster/Miser Recommendation: Replace electric dryer with gas dryer (incremental).

  • 5-year savings: $231, 4,500 lbs. CO2, 5,400 kWh of power (minus additional consumption of 19,500 cu. ft. of natural gas).
  • Lifetime savings: $509, 9,900 lbs. CO2, assuming life of 11 years.
  • Incremental cost: $200; $50 price difference for gas dryer, $150 for installation of natural gas connection.
  • New cost: $600; $450 for dryer, $150 for installation of natural gas outlet.
  • Payback incremental: 4.3 years. IRR: 20%. CROI: 50 lbs./$.
  • Payback new: It is not worth replacing an electric dryer with a gas dryer for the energy savings alone (negative internal rate of return).


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