Thinking of buying a new washing machine? Wondering what things to consider in making your purchase?

We asked the Federal Trade Commission to tell us how to save money.

We know: Tips for Buying a Washing Machine

What kinds of washing machines are there?

There are basically two kinds of washing machines. The most common kind in the United States is a top loading machine, where the machine agitator turns on a vertical axis. The other kind is called a front loading washing machine, where the agitator works on a horizontal axis. (A few models mix and match.)

What are the advantages and disadvantages of each?

Top loading machines are generally cheaper to buy than front loading machines, but more expensive to operate. They are quiet, can hold a lot of clothes and, because they are more common, you can find a bigger variety of makes and models. They are less energy and water efficient than front loading machines.

Front loading machines are generally more energy and water efficient, though they also tend to cost more. They are quiet, can hold a lot of clothes, and are gentle on fabrics. Front loading machines often have longer cycles. They are harder to find and there is less selection.

How can I compare machines?

One of the best ways to compare any household appliance is to look at its energy efficiency. This helps you determine the operating cost of the appliance over time. Often, you can buy a more expensive machine, but save money in the long run.

To make this easier, the Federal Trade Commission requires washing machine manufacturers to put a yellow and black Energy Guide label on every new machine, so that you can make a direct comparison of machines of the same size.

How important is energy and water efficiency in the overall cost of a washing machine?

Your washing machine wastes more energy and money than nearly any other home appliance. By buying an energy and water efficient machine, you can:

  • Save 30-75 % on operating costs
  • Cut water use by 50%

What information is on the energy label?

The yellow and black Energy Guide label will tell you how much electricity, in kilowatt-hours (kWh), the clothes washer will use in one year. The smaller the number, the less energy it uses.

ENERGY STAR® clothes washer uses less than 50% of the energy used by standard washers. (Energy Star is a special rating the government uses to denote highly energy-efficient appliances.)

Look for the following design features that help clothes washers cut water usage: water level controls, "suds-saver" features, spin cycle adjustment, and large capacity. For double the efficiency, buy an ENERGY STAR® unit.

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