Launch Slideshow

Frigidaire. The Affinity series laundry set is rated for a modified energy factor (MEF) of 2.31 and a water factor (WF) of 3.8, or about 28% and 97% better than current thresholds, respectively. The washer offers spin cycles up to 1,100 rpm and purports a 25-minute wash cycle among 25 wash options, including an Energy Saver mode that automatically reduces water temperature. The 3.5-cubic-foot-capacity unit offers a stainless steel tub and drum. 800.374.4432. www.frigidaire.com.

Positive Spin

Special cycles, smart sensors, and new designs help the latest crop of washers save more energy and water than ever before.

Positive Spin

Special cycles, smart sensors, and new designs help the latest crop of washers save more energy and water than ever before.

  • Frigidaire. The Affinity series laundry set is rated for a modified energy factor (MEF) of 2.31 and a water factor (WF) of 3.8, or about 28% and 97% better than current thresholds, respectively. The washer offers spin cycles up to 1,100 rpm and purports a 25-minute wash cycle among 25 wash options, including an Energy Saver mode that automatically reduces water temperature. The 3.5-cubic-foot-capacity unit offers a stainless steel tub and drum. 800.374.4432. www.frigidaire.com.

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    Frigidaire. The Affinity series laundry set is rated for a modified energy factor (MEF) of 2.31 and a water factor (WF) of 3.8, or about 28% and 97% better than current thresholds, respectively. The washer offers spin cycles up to 1,100 rpm and purports a 25-minute wash cycle among 25 wash options, including an Energy Saver mode that automatically reduces water temperature. The 3.5-cubic-foot-capacity unit offers a stainless steel tub and drum. 800.374.4432. www.frigidaire.com.

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    Frigidaire. The Affinity series laundry set is rated for a modified energy factor (MEF) of 2.31 and a water factor (WF) of 3.8, or about 28% and 97% better than current thresholds, respectively. The washer offers spin cycles up to 1,100 rpm and purports a 25-minute wash cycle among 25 wash options, including an Energy Saver mode that automatically reduces water temperature. The 3.5-cubic-foot-capacity unit offers a stainless steel tub and drum. 800.374.4432. www.frigidaire.com.
  • Maytag. The Bravos line of top-loading equipment offers a 5.0-cubic-foot capacity, a built-in heater, and a 1,100-rpm spin cycle to wash more clothes more efficiently. The unit is rated with a 2.25 MEF and a WF of 4.3, or 25% and 74% better than current thresholds. Bravos is also the first top-loader to meet Tier III CEE energy specifications per the Department of Energy, according to the company. 800.344.1274. www.maytag.com.

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    Maytag. The Bravos line of top-loading equipment offers a 5.0-cubic-foot capacity, a built-in heater, and a 1,100-rpm spin cycle to wash more clothes more efficiently. The unit is rated with a 2.25 MEF and a WF of 4.3, or 25% and 74% better than current thresholds. Bravos is also the first top-loader to meet Tier III CEE energy specifications per the Department of Energy, according to the company. 800.344.1274. www.maytag.com.

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    Maytag. The Bravos line of top-loading equipment offers a 5.0-cubic-foot capacity, a built-in heater, and a 1,100-rpm spin cycle to wash more clothes more efficiently. The unit is rated with a 2.25 MEF and a WF of 4.3, or 25% and 74% better than current thresholds. Bravos is also the first top-loader to meet Tier III CEE energy specifications per the Department of Energy, according to the company. 800.344.1274. www.maytag.com.

  • Miele. The 3035 series of large-capacity (2.52-cubic-foot) washers are rated at 2.31 MEF and 4.4 WF, or 28% and 70% better than minimum Energy Star standards. The washer offers 11 wash-cycle options and six spin settings up to 1,300 rpm. A honeycombed stainless steel tub treats clothes more gently, the maker says. The unit also is equipped with Mieles RemoteVision, which automatically monitors the appliance 24/7 and reports any user faults or potential service problems to the companys service center. 800.843.7231. www.miele.com.

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    Miele. The 3035 series of large-capacity (2.52-cubic-foot) washers are rated at 2.31 MEF and 4.4 WF, or 28% and 70% better than minimum Energy Star standards. The washer offers 11 wash-cycle options and six spin settings up to 1,300 rpm. A honeycombed stainless steel tub treats clothes more gently, the maker says. The unit also is equipped with Mieles RemoteVision, which automatically monitors the appliance 24/7 and reports any user faults or potential service problems to the companys service center. 800.843.7231. www.miele.com.

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    Miele. The 3035 series of large-capacity (2.52-cubic-foot) washers are rated at 2.31 MEF and 4.4 WF, or 28% and 70% better than minimum Energy Star standards. The washer offers 11 wash-cycle options and six spin settings up to 1,300 rpm. A honeycombed stainless steel tub treats clothes more gently, the maker says. The unit also is equipped with Miele’s RemoteVision, which automatically monitors the appliance 24/7 and reports any user faults or potential service problems to the company’s service center. 800.843.7231. www.miele.com.

  • GE. Profile series SmartDispense full-size washers and dryers achieve an MEF rating of 2.23 and a WF of 4.0 (24% and 87.5% better than 2009 thresholds, respectively) and feature steam technology. The 4.2-cubic-foot-capacity, stainless steeltub washer automatically senses the load and adjusts the water level to as little as 10 gallons per load; a spin cycle up to 1,300 rpm reduces the energy load on the dryer. The units communicate to match load settings. 800.626.2005. www.geappliances.com.

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    GE. Profile series SmartDispense full-size washers and dryers achieve an MEF rating of 2.23 and a WF of 4.0 (24% and 87.5% better than 2009 thresholds, respectively) and feature steam technology. The 4.2-cubic-foot-capacity, stainless steeltub washer automatically senses the load and adjusts the water level to as little as 10 gallons per load; a spin cycle up to 1,300 rpm reduces the energy load on the dryer. The units communicate to match load settings. 800.626.2005. www.geappliances.com.

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    GE. Profile series SmartDispense full-size washers and dryers achieve an MEF rating of 2.23 and a WF of 4.0 (24% and 87.5% better than 2009 thresholds, respectively) and feature steam technology. The 4.2-cubic-foot-capacity, stainless steel–tub washer automatically senses the load and adjusts the water level to as little as 10 gallons per load; a spin cycle up to 1,300 rpm reduces the energy load on the dryer. The units communicate to match load settings. 800.626.2005. www.geappliances.com.

  • LG. The WM2701HV model offers a 4.5-cubic-foot-capacity stainless steel tub to reduce the number of loads; it automatically senses water hardness and detergent level, adjusting cycle length and water level to maximize efficiency. The washer achieves an MEF rating of 2.57 and a WF of 3.4, or nearly 43% and more than 120% better than current Energy Star minimum standards, respectively. The machine offers 12 cycle program choices, five wash-rinse temperature options, and variable-speed spin cycles up to 1,200 rpm. 800.243.0000. www.lge.com.

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    LG. The WM2701HV model offers a 4.5-cubic-foot-capacity stainless steel tub to reduce the number of loads; it automatically senses water hardness and detergent level, adjusting cycle length and water level to maximize efficiency. The washer achieves an MEF rating of 2.57 and a WF of 3.4, or nearly 43% and more than 120% better than current Energy Star minimum standards, respectively. The machine offers 12 cycle program choices, five wash-rinse temperature options, and variable-speed spin cycles up to 1,200 rpm. 800.243.0000. www.lge.com.

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    LG. The WM2701HV model offers a 4.5-cubic-foot-capacity stainless steel tub to reduce the number of loads; it automatically senses water hardness and detergent level, adjusting cycle length and water level to maximize efficiency. The washer achieves an MEF rating of 2.57 and a WF of 3.4, or nearly 43% and more than 120% better than current Energy Star minimum standards, respectively. The machine offers 12 cycle program choices, five wash-rinse temperature options, and variable-speed spin cycles up to 1,200 rpm. 800.243.0000. www.lge.com.

  • Bosch. The Vision line of full-size (3.31-cubic-foot) laundry equipment is rated to use 13 gallons of water per load, achieving an MEF of 2.52 and a WF of 4.5 (both 40% better than 2009 thresholds). EcoSmart sensors and intelligent controls continuously analyze the wash cycle and automatically adjust the water level, temperature, and suds level. The steam-option dryers EcoSensor measures the moisture level of the clothes and adjusts cycle length and heat level automatically. 800.944.2904. www.boschappliances.com.

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    Bosch. The Vision line of full-size (3.31-cubic-foot) laundry equipment is rated to use 13 gallons of water per load, achieving an MEF of 2.52 and a WF of 4.5 (both 40% better than 2009 thresholds). EcoSmart sensors and intelligent controls continuously analyze the wash cycle and automatically adjust the water level, temperature, and suds level. The steam-option dryers EcoSensor measures the moisture level of the clothes and adjusts cycle length and heat level automatically. 800.944.2904. www.boschappliances.com.

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    Bosch. The Vision line of full-size (3.31-cubic-foot) laundry equipment is rated to use 13 gallons of water per load, achieving an MEF of 2.52 and a WF of 4.5 (both 40% better than 2009 thresholds). EcoSmart sensors and intelligent controls continuously analyze the wash cycle and automatically adjust the water level, temperature, and suds level. The steam-option dryer’s EcoSensor measures the moisture level of the clothes and adjusts cycle length and heat level automatically. 800.944.2904. www.boschappliances.com.

  • Fagor. The FA-5812 full-size washer offers an MEF of 2.07 and a WF of 6.7, or about 15% and 12% better than current Energy Star standards, respectively. Sensors in the washer analyze the fabric type and the garment quantity and automatically set the temperature, spin speed (up to 1,200 rpm), and washing time to optimize energy and water use. The 1.97-cubic-foot-capacity unit includes a stainless steel drum and automatic door. 800.207.0806. www.fagoramerica.com.

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    Fagor. The FA-5812 full-size washer offers an MEF of 2.07 and a WF of 6.7, or about 15% and 12% better than current Energy Star standards, respectively. Sensors in the washer analyze the fabric type and the garment quantity and automatically set the temperature, spin speed (up to 1,200 rpm), and washing time to optimize energy and water use. The 1.97-cubic-foot-capacity unit includes a stainless steel drum and automatic door. 800.207.0806. www.fagoramerica.com.

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    Fagor. The FA-5812 full-size washer offers an MEF of 2.07 and a WF of 6.7, or about 15% and 12% better than current Energy Star standards, respectively. Sensors in the washer analyze the fabric type and the garment quantity and automatically set the temperature, spin speed (up to 1,200 rpm), and washing time to optimize energy and water use. The 1.97-cubic-foot-capacity unit includes a stainless steel drum and automatic door. 800.207.0806. www.fagoramerica.com.

  • Whirlpool. The Duet full-size washer offers 4.4 cubic feet of capacity, is CEE Tier III qualified, and achieves a 2.46-MEF and a 3.8-WF rating, or about 37% and 97% better than current minimum thresholds. With spin speeds of up to 1,300 rpm and smart moisture sensors in the dryer, a wash and dry load can be done in about 30 minutes, says the firm. The Eco Normal cycle on the Resource Saver dryer automatically senses heat and moisture. 800.253.3977. www.insideadvantage.com.

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    Whirlpool. The Duet full-size washer offers 4.4 cubic feet of capacity, is CEE Tier III qualified, and achieves a 2.46-MEF and a 3.8-WF rating, or about 37% and 97% better than current minimum thresholds. With spin speeds of up to 1,300 rpm and smart moisture sensors in the dryer, a wash and dry load can be done in about 30 minutes, says the firm. The Eco Normal cycle on the Resource Saver dryer automatically senses heat and moisture. 800.253.3977. www.insideadvantage.com.

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    Whirlpool. The Duet full-size washer offers 4.4 cubic feet of capacity, is CEE Tier III qualified, and achieves a 2.46-MEF and a 3.8-WF rating, or about 37% and 97% better than current minimum thresholds. With spin speeds of up to 1,300 rpm and smart moisture sensors in the dryer, a wash and dry load can be done in about 30 minutes, says the firm. The Eco Normal cycle on the Resource Saver dryer automatically senses heat and moisture. 800.253.3977. www.insideadvantage.com.

  • Asko. The W6903FI series full-size washer uses only 9.5 gallons of water per load or about 3,200 gallons a year. The unit achieves an MEF of 2.4 and a WF of 4.2 (33% and 78.5% better than 2009 thresholds, respectively). An internal heater produces optimal temperatures throughout the wash cycle while a 2,000-rpm spin cycle reduces the energy demand on the dryer. The 1.96-cubic-foot-capacity washer features stainless steel inner and outer tanks, and most components are rated for recycling. 800.898.1879. www.askousa.com.

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    Asko. The W6903FI series full-size washer uses only 9.5 gallons of water per load or about 3,200 gallons a year. The unit achieves an MEF of 2.4 and a WF of 4.2 (33% and 78.5% better than 2009 thresholds, respectively). An internal heater produces optimal temperatures throughout the wash cycle while a 2,000-rpm spin cycle reduces the energy demand on the dryer. The 1.96-cubic-foot-capacity washer features stainless steel inner and outer tanks, and most components are rated for recycling. 800.898.1879. www.askousa.com.

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    Asko. The W6903FI series full-size washer uses only 9.5 gallons of water per load or about 3,200 gallons a year. The unit achieves an MEF of 2.4 and a WF of 4.2 (33% and 78.5% better than 2009 thresholds, respectively). An internal heater produces optimal temperatures throughout the wash cycle while a 2,000-rpm spin cycle reduces the energy demand on the dryer. The 1.96-cubic-foot-capacity washer features stainless steel inner and outer tanks, and most components are rated for recycling. 800.898.1879. www.askousa.com.

  • Fisher and Paykel. The advanced top-loading, 3.7-cubic-foot-capacity washer (model WA37T26GW2) delivers an MEF of 2.0 and a WF of 5.96, or 11% and 26% better than current thresholds, respectively. The machine features three spin cycles up to 1,000 rpm and a load-sensing feature that automatically sets the correct water level and agitator wash action. A stainless steel basket delivers long-term durability. 888.936.7872. www.fisherpaykel.com.

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    Fisher and Paykel. The advanced top-loading, 3.7-cubic-foot-capacity washer (model WA37T26GW2) delivers an MEF of 2.0 and a WF of 5.96, or 11% and 26% better than current thresholds, respectively. The machine features three spin cycles up to 1,000 rpm and a load-sensing feature that automatically sets the correct water level and agitator wash action. A stainless steel basket delivers long-term durability. 888.936.7872. www.fisherpaykel.com.

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    Fisher and Paykel. The advanced top-loading, 3.7-cubic-foot-capacity washer (model WA37T26GW2) delivers an MEF of 2.0 and a WF of 5.96, or 11% and 26% better than current thresholds, respectively. The machine features three spin cycles up to 1,000 rpm and a load-sensing feature that automatically sets the correct water level and agitator wash action. A stainless steel basket delivers long-term durability. 888.936.7872. www.fisherpaykel.com.

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    Electrolux. The Wave-Touch (EWFLW65H) full-size washer is rated at a 2.31 MEF and 3.9 WF (28% and 92% better than current minimums, respectively), resulting in energy savings of 83% and water savings of 56% compared to conventional machines. The large-capacity (4.7-cubic-foot) tub allows larger and fewer loads. The washer offers a 1,350-rpm spin cycle and features an integral water heater and stainless steel drum. Fast wash and dry cycles complete loads in 18 minutes. 877.435.3287. www.electroluxappliances.com.

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    Kenmore. The 4.2-cubic-foot-capacity SteamCare washer features Smart Motion technology, a direct-drive motor that creates a customized combination of five wash motions to custom clean each garment type. The Energy Star-qualified unit includes a Cold Clean cycle that cleans as effectively as warm-water cycles, a Steam Care Generator that helps deep clean and helps refresh clothes, a Kids Wear cycle, and a Stain Treat option. The companion SteamCare dryer offers a 7.4-cubic-foot capacity and includes a Steam Refresh cycle to relax wrinkles and reduce odors in 20 minutes, and Sensor Dry technology that detects moisture for accurate drying times. 888.536.6673. www.kenmore.com.

There are currently 413 models among 34 name brands of clothes washers that qualify for the federal Energy Star label, including the ones featured in this article. All of those qualified products use at least half the amount of water and heating energy of new, non-qualified products offered since 2004, the latest set of standards before even higher thresholds were enacted last year. And they are certainly more efficient than the tens of millions of machines sold before that date, still chugging away across the country.

In fact, most Energy Star clothes washers are efficient enough today to meet the tighter water- and energy-use qualification standards that took effect in January; it’s likely that all of those brands and products on the current list (and maybe more) will gear up to meet or exceed the new standards before they are enforced, even if (or when) the federal program mandates that manufacturers submit to third-party testing to verify their efficiencies.

But that’s only half the story. “It’s like a lot of green building products,” says builder Lee Zieben of ZK Homes in Houston, who offers high-efficiency laundry sets as an option, not a standard spec. “If you can’t articulate the value and help change [homeowner] behavior to take advantage of it, it’s wasted money.”

The inability of home buyers to see or become motivated by the energy- and water-saving values of the latest laundry equipment may help explain why only about 30% of new homes are sold with a new washer and dryer included, according to the NAHB Research Center’s annual “Market Demand Data” report.

“Most people bring their old ones when they move in,” says Ed Hudson, director of the center’s Market Research Division. That, in turn, may dissuade or discourage builders from offering them as standard or putting in the work to convince homeowners to upgrade their existing set.

However, that market share has steadily improved since 2004 (from a mere 23% that year), a trend attributed to aesthetics, improved water and energy savings, and promotional efforts. But that percentage represents only the tip of the tremendous resource efficiencies, including impressive reductions in CO2 emissions, that high-performance clothes washers and dryers can achieve if they were installed in all homes. Even at their peak of production, new homes account for less than 2% of the overall housing stock (far less so right now, of course), making turnover of old machines a slow-go in that segment.

Manufacturers are savvy to that fact. “We expect 2010 to be a replacement year [among existing homes], especially with more state energy-efficiency appliance rebate programs coming on line,” says Marni Hale, a spokesperson for Bosch Home Appliances. “As products come to the end of their life cycle [about 12 years, according to research by NAHB Economics], consumers will look to upgrade to take advantage of those rebates and long-term cost savings.”

BETTER MACHINES

Energy and water-use efficiencies achieved by the latest generation of clothes washers are the result of a fundamental shift in product design, namely from top-loading units with conventional central agitators to front-loading machines with no agitators and advanced top-loaders that employ an impeller design.

As a result, front-loaders and advanced top-loaders use a relatively small amount of water at the bottom of the tub—about 15 to 17 gallons per load on average, which represents only a fraction of their overall tub capacity. That’s about half or less of the water needed by a legacy top-loader, which requires a nearly full tub of water. With less water in the tub to heat, energy use with a new-age washer can be reduced by up to 90%, according to Energy Star, translating to an overall annual household energy savings of perhaps 30% or more.

Without an agitator or by using an impeller, today’s front-loading and advanced top-loading equipment, respectively, rely instead on a tumbling action to clean clothes, a design detail that frees up more room in the tub and ideally results in fewer loads (and thus lower resource consumption) overall. Some units detect the size of a load and can be set for the type of load being washed to automatically adjust the water and energy needed to clean it.

They also feature energy-efficient motors to enable high-speed and extended spin cycles that extract more water out of a clean load so that a companion dryer does not have to work as hard or draw as much energy to finish the job.

Other, non-rated features that can further reduce resource use and distinguish brands and models include washers with delay-start functions that allow the unit to operate during non-peak energy-use times and “express” cycles that use even less water and energy than the machine’s ratings, as well as dryers with steam functions that might reduce wrinkles and remove odors from clothes without requiring a wash cycle.