Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Day Forty-Eight - Give Us Dirty Laundry

Replacing My Dead Washing Machine with an Energy Efficient Front Loader

OK, let me preface the post by saying, I know that purchasing a brand new appliance isn't exactly in line with my Compacting post, but with two toddlers, a husband and a 95+ heat wave this week, waiting while I find a used washer just isn't gonna happen. I am, of course, Freecycling the old machine.

My washer died this week. It was Sunday and I was running a load when I heard an awful noise, like the machine had just leapt in front of a semi on the highway. I shrugged it off, convincing myself it was just a really, really unbalanced load, but had to face the facts when I went to move the wash over to the dryer, only to find a pile of soaking wet towels and Scooby-Doo pajamas. Handyman hubby did make an attempt to fix the machine, but to no avail. Since it was a $300 machine and the repairs would most likely be in the $200 range, we decided to bite the bullet and get a new machine.

We trundled on over to Home Depot to check out what was available. I got a quick lesson in the differences between the old top-loaders and the new high-efficiency front-loaders. Compared to my old machine, the new one has a slightly greater capacity, uses an average of only 167 kWh per year and, here's the biggy, consumes only 12 gallons of water per cycle, vs. 40 gallons per cycle. So, not only can I wash more clothes in one load, I am using less electricity and sixty percent less water. Also, because the spin cycle reaches 1100 rpms, the clothes will be essentially wrung out before being tossed in the dryer, thereby shortening the drying time required (some say by up to 50%). One more "good thing" is that, because there is no middle agitator, the machine is actually easier on the clothes, extending their useful life.

The down side? Big chunk out of the ol' wallet. It cost us $899 for all this green-ness, compared to about $399 for the old styles. So, will I get that $500 back in energy savings? According to, I should save approximately $110 per year in energy costs. So as long as the new machine lasts over 5 years, I'll be ahead of the game.


I'm calculating that due to the larger capacity, I'll only have to do five loads per week, compared to seven. Based on the other information given above, that means that in one year I should save 11,440 gallons of water. Add to that the energy saving of roughly 1,100 KwH per year. That's a pretty good savings!

Difficulty Level: 2 out of 5

It wasn't difficult to get the new machine, just inconvenient that the old one broke! Again, it was a bit painful on the wallet, but fortunately, we have an HD card so we did at least get six months with no interest. Of course, HD didn't have any of the machine we wanted in stock, so now I have to wait until Friday for delivery. Not good, since I've already had to resort to the underpants-that-have-lost-their-elastic and Ethan's only got one clean pair of pj's left. :-(

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