Saturday, October 25, 2014

Thrifty Thinking: How Much Money Can a High Efficiency Washer Really Save You?

They say a mother's work is never done, and when you look at the mountain of laundry that seems to magically replenish itself every day, those words never ring more true. With the kids' school and soccer clothes, your work clothes and all the family's linens and towels, laundry day can quickly turn into laundry week. In addition to being a time suck, laundry can also put the hurt on your wallet. As a parent, you know how important it is to make smart financial decisions for your family, so take a close look at your current washing machine and determine whether a high-efficiency (HE) model is right for you.
What is Energy Star?
Energy Star is a voluntary program created by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that assists businesses and individuals with saving money and protecting the environment through superior energy efficiency. When you shop for new appliances, the yellow EnergyGuide label will denote those machines that are Energy Star rated and will provide you with the appliance's estimated yearly electricity use in kilowatts, which they translate to operating costs.
This is very helpful information, but you need to have something to compare it to.
Laundry Costs Calculator
All of the numbers in this article are based on averages, so to find out exactly how much you're spending on laundry now and to compare a HE machine, check out the Mr. Electricity Laundry Costs Calculator.

Although HE appliances cost more up front, the money that you'll save over the lifetime of the machine will usually more than make up for it. Furthermore, mountains of laundry are a little easier to deal with when you can fit more into each load, and spend less on energy, water and even detergent while you're doing it.
Save Energy
Less water and energy means saving on utility bills. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, HE washers have one-third the operating costs of standard washers. The biggest secret, however, is that the major savings kick in when you wash your clothes in cold water. Ninety percent of clothes washing expenses come from the electrical effort to heat the water, so you can save roughly $150 per year by using cold water, and you'll keep your clothes in better condition too.
Save Water
Most HE's are front-loading machines that use about 20 gals per load, which is half the water usage of a standard machine's load. Instead of filling the internal tub and agitating the clothes like a top-loading washer does, the front-load HE fills up a small amount of water in the bottom and tumbles the clothes horizontally, causing much less wear and tear on garments. Plus, many of the HE washers offer more cubic feet, so you can easily wash larger items like comforters.
Save Detergent
When you use a HE washer, you have to use a specific laundry detergent that has a special high concentration and lower sudsing capabilities. You will save money here because you use much less detergent than you do with your standard washing machine. This detergent can be found in your grocery store next to the standard laundry detergents; just look for the "HE" symbol on the lower corner of the bottle.
While saving money and reducing your carbon footprint are huge benefits of switching to a high efficiency washer, it will also save you time, which you know, as a busy mom, might be the most important thing of all. Samsung's new WA508 Washer boasts that it will "turn laundry day into laundry hour." Can you imagine?
What will you do with the money you save with your high efficiency washer?

Sarah Kellner writes on home appliances for Home Depot, sharing advice geared to help homeowners make the best decision for their needs. You can view a selection of washing machines available at Home Depot, including high-efficiency styles mentioned in Sarah's article, on the Home Depot website.

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