Washers: green buying guide 10/10
(This article is adapted from the February 2010 Consumer Reports magazine.)
Many of the washers tested by Consumer Reports are very energy- and water-efficient, which can save you money in the long run. But some manufacturers have taken shortcuts to meet the latest federal energy standards—they lowered the water temperature and sacrificed cleaning ability in the process.
Front-loaders offer big capacity, use less water than top-loaders, and spin more water out of laundry, shortening drying time. Consider these:
Kenmore 4027 $800 CR Best Buy
LG WM2050C $700 CR Best Buy
GE WCVH6800J $750 CR Best Buy
High-efficiency top-loaders hold more laundry and use less energy and water than standard top-loaders. Consider these recommended models:
Maytag Bravos MVWB750W $900
Whirlpool Cabrio HE WTW6800W $1,000
Energy Star models might qualify for a rebate of up to $250 under the federally funded State Energy Efficient Appliance Rebate Program, also known as Cash for Clunkers for Appliances. Rebates vary by state, but one thing's certain: They're expected to go fast. For more information, read Rebates for new appliances
How to choose
Most top-loading washers that cost less than $500 didn't wash as well, used more energy or water, couldn't hold as much, or were tougher on laundry than more expensive models. And an inefficient machine can cost an added $130 or more to operate per year than our most efficient models.
Front loaders in general are the better types when it comes to energy and water use. Front-loading washers fill only partly with water. They clean clothes by lifting them to the top of the tub and dropping them back into the water. They work best with low-foaming, high-efficiency detergent.
The best front-loaders clean better and more efficiently than the best high-efficiency top-loaders, without necessarily costing more. Most can handle a 12- to 20-pound load. Better moisture extraction in the spin cycle reduces drying time and energy consumption. As a group, front-loaders tend to be very quiet (as are some top-loaders). Many can be stacked with a dryer to save floor space.
Check the washer recommendations for more buying advice.
• Readers tell us about mold and odors developing in their front-loaders. Our Annual Product Reliability Survey found that 8 percent of front-loader problems were caused by mold or mildew. LG and Maytag front-loaders were slightly more susceptible than most brands surveyed. For advice on avoiding mold and odors, see Soap sense.
• Look for a stainless-steel or plastic tub. Unlike a porcelain drum, stainless or plastic won't rust if it's chipped. And stainless tubs can withstand higher spin speeds, which extract more water and speed up drying.
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