High-efficiency clothes washers save energy in three important ways:
- More efficient motors than old machines
- Reduced hot water usage
- Reduced moisture content of clean clothes requiring less drying time
About 90% of the energy used by clothes washers is for heating the hot water used to wash the clothes. Only about 10 percent or less of the energy is used by the electric motor that runs the clothes washer. So, the best way to improve the efficiency of a clothes washer is to reduce the amount of water, particularly hot water, that is needed to wash the clothes.
The efficiency of a clothes washer is measured by a term called the energy factor. It is somewhat similar to the miles per gallon for a car, but in this case the measure is cubic feet of washing capacity per kilowatt-hour of electricity. The minimum allowed energy factor rating for standard capacity clothes washers is 1.18.
In many cases the energy savings from a high-efficiency clothes washer will be of higher value than the water and wastewater savings. The combination of all three makes this appliance an excellent choice if you are looking to purchase a new washer. Some high-efficiency models are more expensive than standard models, but the difference in cost is typically paid off in water and energy savings in between 1 and 6 years depending on your location and the clothes washer you select.
Federal law requires that EnergyGuide labels be placed on all new clothes washers. These labels are bright yellow with black lettering. Look for the EPA’s ENERGY STAR label when purchasing a new clothes washer. This label indicates the machine is energy efficient. Click here for information on the Energy Star program, specific high efficiency washers, and where to purchase these machines.