We might not stop to think about it very often, but most of us spend a lot of time washing and drying our clothes. In fact, according to the California Energy Commission, the standard American household does about 400 loads of laundry each year. That's an awful lot of detergent and fabric softener!
Of course, since we spend so much time cleaning our clothes, it's important to have a machine that makes the process as easy as possible. There are three types of washers for laundry-doers to choose from. They are:
1. Regular top-load: cheapest, most basic washer option
2. High-efficiency top-load: costs more than standard washers but uses less water and energy
3. Front-load: performs as well or better than high-efficiency top-loaders and are often comparable in price, though high-end units are the most expensive of all washer options
The majority of dryers are front-load, and the appliance hasn't changed much in recent years in terms of efficiency.
There are a number of reasons why front-loading machines wash away the competition, but we thought we'd let you see for yourself. Click over to the next page to learn why front-loading washers tower over top-loaders when it comes to saving space.
Consider your kitchen cabinets, for a moment. Are your plates settled side by side or neatly stacked? Unless you have an overabundance of cabinet space (and we've never known anyone with that particular problem), the stacking option allows for some much-needed extra room.
For most of us, this struggle for extra space extends to every area of the home, and just like with your dishes, stackable front-load washer and dryer sets can make a real difference in the battle against household clutter. Stacking your washer and dryer grants you space to store vacuums, cleaning supplies and other household items. Plus, stacking your set brings the washer up to eye level, which makes it that much easier to clean the drum and look for the sock that got away!
4: Top Storage
Most laundry rooms have some sort of shelving, but they always manage to get filled up with odds and ends that don't seem to fit anywhere else, like batteries, light bulbs and old towels. If you choose not to stack your front-loading set, you still have the added benefit of extra storage space on top of the units, unlike top-load models. This extra room is perfect for the placement of detergent, fabric softener, dryer sheets, stain removers and anything else you might need in your laundry room.
3: Water Efficiency
Our society is becoming more environmentally conscious, and as a result, manufacturers have started developing more Earth-friendly products. Front-loading washers are the clear choice for anyone looking to cut back on water usage, since regular washing machines use about 40 gallons (151 liters) of water per load. By comparison, front-loading models use only 20 to 25 gallons (94 liters) because the drum only has to be partially filled to wash clothes. It's quite a savings, so even if your old-school, top-loading washer isn't quite on its last legs, it's worth thinking about trading it in for a front-loading machine. If nothing else, you'll see a significantly decreased water bill.
2: Energy Efficiency
They look sleek, grant you more storage space and are better for the environment, but did you know that using front-loading machines will also save money on your power bill? Front-loading and high-efficiency, top-loading sets that are Energy Star qualified can save you anywhere from $45 to $125 per year on power costs, depending on the model and how often you use it. To qualify for an Energy Star seal, washing machines must use 11 percent less energy than their older counterparts. Also, since energy-efficient models spin faster, they more effectively reduce moisture. This equates to less time spent in the dryer. So unless you enjoy higher power bills, you might want to consider springing for a high-efficiency, front-loading set.
1: They're Better for your Clothes
While there's no proven statistics to back up this claim, many people maintain that their clothes hold up better when washed regularly in front-loading machines. This makes sense, as the horizontal axis of a front-load washer means it spins like a dryer, so there's no agitator to move clothes around inside the drum. Because they're not being twisted, pushed and pulled by an agitator, the overall trauma to your garments is reduced. So until someone proves otherwise, consider front-load washers to be the best option for keeping your clothes looking as new as possible!
Lots More Information
- Are washer/dryer combination machines energy-efficient?
- What are "high-efficiency" dryers?
- What are "low-water" washing machines?
- What are high-efficiency washers?
- How does design affect a washer's energy efficiency?
- California Energy Commission. "Clothes Washers." California Energy Commission. 2011. (Sept. 23, 2011) http://www.consumerenergycenter.org/home/appliances/washers.html
- Consumer Reports. "Clothes Dryer Guide." Consumer Reports. 2011. (Sept. 23, 2011) http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/appliances/laundry-and-cleaning/clothes-dryers/clothes-dryer-buying-advice/clothes-dryer-getting-started/clothes-dryer-getting-started.htm
- Consumer Reports. "Tip of the Day: Use the Right Type and Amount of Laundry Detergent." Consumer Reports. Feb. 1, 2010. (Sept. 23, 2011) http://news.consumerreports.org/home/2010/02/prevent-washing-machine-overdosing-he-regular-detergent-mold-mildew-consumer-reports-review.html
- Consumer Reports. "Washing Machine Guide." Consumer Reports. 2011. (Sept. 23, 2011)http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/appliances/laundry-and-cleaning/washing-machines/washing-machine-buying-advice/washing-machine-types/washing-machine-types.htm
- Martha Stewart Living. "Positive Energy." Martha Stewart Living. January 2007. (Sept. 23, 2011) http://www.marthastewart.com/267779/positive-energy
- Martha Stewart Living. "Tapped Out." Martha Stewart Living. July/August 2007. (Sept. 23, 2011) http://www.marthastewart.com/287072/tapped-out
- Nair, Kamala. "Clean Green." Parenting. 2011. (Sept. 23, 2011)http://www.parenting.com/article/clean-green-21355173?cid=searchresult