High efficiency (HE) washing machines have been on the market for several years now. Not only do they use less water (they range from 20% to 66% of the water used in traditional machines) but also less energy since there is less water to heat. These qualities help consumers save money and are environmentally friendly.
In traditional washers with center agitators the clothes are completely submerged in water. HE models use little water but can still clean large loads, many times larger loads than the agitator type. They are available in either a top load where spinning, rotating and or “wobbling” wheels, plates or disks move the clothes in the machine or a front load where the laundry tumbles through the water as the tub alternately rotates clockwise and counter clockwise.
HE washing machines require HE detergent. These detergents are formulated to be low-sudsing and quick dispersing. This means that you will not see bubbles like you did with traditional detergent. Ignore the urge to add more detergent to the washer! If non HE detergent (detergent made to be used in a machine with more water) is used it causes too much sudsing which could keep the soap from being rinsed out and could keep the clothes from getting clean.
Here are a few things to consider when selecting a new washer:
- Will the washing machine be placed where noise is a factor? If it is next to the living room you will want to choose a machine that is rated quiet.
- When comparing costs look at the energy savings over life time of the appliance. The water and utility savings help to justify the potential higher price of the machine.
- Many utility companies offer rebates for energy efficient models. Check to see if an Energy Star rebate is available to you.
- Make sure that all of the features (customized cycles, steam cleaning, extra rinse cycle, etc.) that are offered are important to you. The cost will go up as more features are added.
- HE washers have longer washing times than conventional machines but will wash more clothes in each load.
- If possible keep the door open between loads on a front loading machine to allow for air circulation and to prevent a mildew smell from developing. Many machines now have a tub cleaning cycle but if it doesn’t, try using hot water and adding 1 cup of bleach to a load that doesn’t contain clothes to freshen the machine. Be sure and use the correct amount of detergent so buildup is not an issue.
Selecting a new washer is a big decision. Be sure to put some thought into your selection and pick the model that best fits your family.