Clothes Washer Benefits and Costs
How much does a new high-efficiency clothes washer cost?
High-efficiency washers start at about $550 and go up from there to over $1,000. Good quality standard clothes washers typically sell for $450 - $550, so the high-efficiency machines are definitely more expensive.
However, if you are in the market for a clothes washer, consider that the water, wastewater, and energy savings from a high-efficiency machine may well make up the cost difference in just a few months or years. You can use the payback calculator below to determine if a high-efficiency machine makes sense for you and your family. A higher efficiency machine will use less water and also energy when less water is heated for each warm water wash cycle. The higher the efficiency of the machine, the lower the Water Factor (measure of water used per cycle per cubic foot size of machine).
To sweeten the deal, some water and/or electric utilities now offer financial incentives for purchasing a high-efficiency washer. You can contact your water or electric utility for information about any incentive (or rebate) programs. If such a program exists in your area, the clothes washer salesperson is likely to know about it.p>
High efficiency clothes washers are now offered by almost all the leading manufacturers and should be available wherever clothes washers are sold. For a list of stores in your area, try the ENERGY STAR store locator. All you need is a zip code!
High-Efficiency Clothes Washer Dollars and Sense
The savings you will achieve with a new high-efficiency clothes washer will depend primarily on the make and model you select. If your current washer is a standard top-loading model purchased sometime in the past 30 years, it is a pretty safe bet that it uses about 40 gallons per load of clothes.
A typical clothes dryer will also cost $1,100 to operate over its lifetime.
The total estimated cost to operate a clothes washer over the life of the product is $1,700 plus $1,100 for the drier.
These values are estimates and your costs may be different depending upon how much you use your appliances and the cost of water, sewer, and energy in your area.
To estimate specific energy costs for your household in your area visit the ENERGYguide “home analyzer” feature.
Water and Energy Savings
A high-efficiency washer reduces water (and hence sewer) usage by about 40%. Hence the estimated operating costs over the life of the appliance will be reduced from $660 to $400 – a savings of $260.
Hot water usage in high-efficiency machines is also reduced by about 40%. Since 90% of the energy costs of running a clothes washer is for heating water and 10% is for running the electric motor the life-of-the-appliance energy costs are estimated to reduce from $1,100 to $700 – a savings of $400.
If the washer you purchase reduces moisture content in the clothes by 15%, drying time is estimated to be reduced by the same amount. This adds an additional $160 in savings.
The total estimated savings from a high-efficiency machine are then estimated to be $820 over the life of the appliance or just under $60 per year>.1 In areas with higher water, sewer, and electricity charges the annual savings may be substantially higher.
Payback Period and Life Cycle Cost
For example, a high-efficiency front loading clothes washer may cost $750. A standard top loading machine with similar features may cost $480. The cost difference is then $270. If we assume a $60 annual savings, the payback period is then 270/60 = 4.5 years. A 4.5 year payback period is well within the 14 year expected life of the clothes washer so purchasing the high-efficiency washer makes sound economic sense.
Life cycle cost is simply the added cost over the life of the clothes washer of your utility bills combined to the initial cost of the washing machine. Many people simply look at the few hundred dollar cost difference initially rather than the monthly and yearly cost savings that add up over the lifetime of the washing machine. Significant savings can be seen when different models are compared based on “life cycle cost.” The Energy Guide label (see Energy Savings page) further describes the life cycle cost for each model when you are comparing in-store models.
Using Energy Guide Labels you can figure out the Life Cycle Costs of any appliance. The cost of an appliance over its expected lifetime can be computed using the annual energy cost you calculate using this formula:
Lifetime Cost of a Home Appliance=
Purchase Price + Annual Energy x Estimated Lifetime x Discount Rate
Common assumptions may include:
1Actual savings may be more or less depending upon utility costs in your area and the frequency that you use your appliances.