One thing really jumped out at me as I researched the high efficiency washing machine choices for 2013: Front-load models are vastly more efficient than top-load, hands down.
In fact, the highest efficiency top-load models drag behind the front-loads by about 30 kWh per year. Based on the estimated energy usage in the average American household, moving from the highest efficiency top-load model to a high efficiency front-load clothes washer could decrease your energy usage by 3% or more. Having said that, if your washer is more than ten years old, you’ll benefit by simply replacing it with almost any new Energy Star washer.
For our purposes here, I’d love to stick to the Energy Star ranked front load washers. Following Energy Star recommendations is always the first step, as the organization is committed to reducing your appliance’s carbon footprint and saving you energy (and money). But for those of us who simply must retain the power of opening the lid once the cycle has started (the only real benefit of the top-loader), I will reluctantly throw in one top-loader with a higher than normal efficiency rating.
How the Machines are Rated
You might think that the smaller the machine, the better. But for clothes washer efficiency, that’s not exactly true. A single person will wash about three loads of laundry per week, and a family of four will wash more than three times that. While a smaller washer may appear more efficient, you will only end up doing more loads of laundry. More loads means more energy and more water usage.
This list will use the Modified Energy Factor (MEF), the Water Factor (WF), and the annual energy usage (kWh) of each larger capacity (2.5 cubic feet interior) residential washing machine as per the Energy Star rating system criteria.
The MEF takes into account the size of the washing machine container and its total energy consumption. The higher the MEF, the more efficient the machine. The WF measures the water usage independent of the washer capacity. The lower this number, the better.
The final credential for this short list of the best high-efficiency washing machines of 2013 is availability. If you check out the Energy Star list, you’ll see that some machines rank higher or equal to these here… but I did my homework, and several of their listed models are either discontinued or are not yet available. To save you from a search-related headache, I didn’t include those models.
Most Efficient Washing Machines: 2013
As you search for your new energy efficient washing machine, please note that the asterisk (*) in the model type can represent any letter or number combination.
Frigidaire FAFW3921** front load
Size: 3.68 cubic feet Annual Energy Usage: 92 kWh
MEF: 3.35 WF: 2.9
Suggested Retail Price: $1,149 Found for less: $799 on US Appliance web site
Samsung WF397U*PA** front load
Size: 3.9 cubic feet Annual Energy Usage: 93 kWh
MEF: 3.35 WF: 2.9
Suggested Retail Price: $999 Widely Available: Home Depot, Lowe’s, Best Buy (prices vary)
TOP LOAD MODEL
Kenmore Model #28002
Size: 3.6 cubic feet Annual Energy Usage: 128 kWh
Suggested Retail Price: $699.99 Available for Delivery by Kenmore.
*No data available for MEF and WF.
Check Availability Before Shopping
If you decide to stray from this list (which has the footwork done for you), the first thing you must do is see if the washer you’ve found is available anywhere. It’s so hard to find the perfect fit, only to be disappointed by its limited or non-existent availability.
Start by copying and pasting the model number into a site like Amazon.com, your internet browser, or into a specific store’s search engine (Home Depot, Sears, Best Buy, Lowe’s, etc.). If you don’t find what you’re looking for at your favorite place to shop, try going straight to the manufacturer’s home page. Most have a button that says something like, “Where to Buy,” which allows you to search by zip code or state.
Fore more tips on how to reduce your laundry’s energy usage, watch this Howcast video!