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Front-load washer saves energy, offers great features

Posted by Nola Poirier

Water, water everywhere – and not a drop to capture.

I’ve been more than a bit dismayed by the litres of rainwater pouring down, filling my garden swales, overflowing my rain barrel, and racing along the ditch to the sea. I can’t stop fretting about how I haven’t yet set myself up to catch all this abundance and save it for the sunny days of summer. And of course, when it’s raining this hard I can’t get to work installing a water cistern to store it in.

Fortunately, I’ve been somewhat distracted by a different water – and energy – saving device I recently acquired: my ENERGY STAR, front-loading washing machine.

Out with the old

We live 27 kilometres (one-way) from the nearest laundromat, so when our washing machine broke a couple of weeks ago, we knew we needed to fix or replace it. My husband found the part he thought it needed and reinstalled it, but tinker as he might; the old motor was not to be revived. His shoulders eventually slumped in mechanical defeat. Which is when, I have to admit, I did a little celebratory dance at the thought of replacing our old washer with a super efficient ENERGY STAR® model.

And in with the new

I scanned all my usual secondhand sources for a replacement machine, but none of the ones available near us were ENERGY STAR. Despite my efforts to purchase almost everything we use secondhand, it was also essential to me to buy a good quality and highly efficient appliance, rather than an old energy and water guzzling machine. And so we bought and installed our sassy, snow-white, energy efficient, water-conserving wonder.

Bring on the savings

The scratches and small dent it received during the trip from the car to the basement, notwithstanding, the new machine is perfect. I can set a timer to have the laundry start any time – making it easy to avoid running it during peak energy hours, I can choose high speed spin for the laundry so it comes out almost dry already, I can pack nearly twice as much into it as in my old machine even though it’s no bigger, and I can safely wash delicate or bulky items, because there’s no agitator.

The absolute best part is that its EnerGuide rating is 145 kW/h a year – that’s about half the energy consumption of our old machine, and the water savings are even greater.

If you’re in the market for a new washing machine, definitely choose an ENERGY STAR model. Ours was on sale, so it turned out to be less expensive that some of the non ENERGY STAR machines, but for the extra amount you might have to pay upfront, your savings will soon make up for it.

ENERGY STAR qualified clothes washers use 35 to 50% less water and at least 50% less energy per load than standard machines, and you can couple those savings with the increased capacity, decreased water use, and extra dry spin cycle of a front loader. If buying is not in your budget and you don’t live far from town, take heart, many laundromats use energy-efficient front-loading machines.

Until December 6, 2009, Team Power Smart members can take advantage of a member-exclusive offer to save up to 15% on major appliances, including clothes washers, during Sears Days. For details, log in to your bchydro.com account and use the links to the current offers page in your Members' Tool Box.

And don’t forget of course, that habits like washing in cold, only running full loads, and hanging clothes to dry go a long way to saving energy with any kind of machine.

Nola Poirier is a Sunshine Coast-based freelance writer who regularly contributes to Unplug This Blog!