Washing machines that cut your energy costs

February 1, 2010 3:34:00 PM PST
Washing machines have dropped in price this year - some by as much as 33 percent. Consumer Reports has entered the "Spin Zone" to help you find a good deal on a washer.There are top-loaders. And there are front-loaders. When you're considering what type to buy, which wins out in the "Spin Zone"?

"You need to consider how energy efficient the washer is, how much it costs, and most importantly, how well it cleans your clothes," said Bob Markovich, Consumer Reports.

Consumer Reports tested more than 70 washing machines, doing eight tons of laundry in the process.

Front-loaders can take an hour, even an hour-and-a-half to run - far longer than a typical top-loader. Yet your energy bills are likely to go down with a front-loader.

"Front-loaders tend to leave a lot less water in your clothes. The wetter your clothes, the longer they take to dry, and that's where you really run up your utility bills," said Markovich.

For example, compare these two machines. Testers washed an identical eight-pound load and weighed it afterward. The laundry in the top-loader weighed almost 16 pounds. The front-loader laundry weighed less ? around 13 pounds, requiring a lot less drying time.

"That'll save you 130 dollars a year or more on utility bills. And front-loaders use a lot less water, too," said Markovich.

Front-loaders do tend to cost more. They can retail for more than a $1,000. But Consumer Reports found good, less expensive ones, including an LG for $850.

If you prefer a top-loader, Consumer Reports recommends this Whirlpool. It costs 630 dollars and did very good at cleaning.

Consumer Reports says you will see top-loaders priced under $500, but its tests show most don't clean very well.

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