Washing Machine Comparisons – Front Load Or Top Loader?

Right, so we had decided to buy a washing machine or a stackable washer dryer combo. It it was to be the latter, then a top loader machine was out of the question so we decided do some washing machine comparisons and decided which type was most suitable for our needs.

Top loader washing machines are the most sold in the US. We knew a lot about them generally. The clothes are washed by an agitator that turns on a vertical axis. On the other hand front loader machines work by tumbling the clothes in a tub that rotates on a horizontal axis. We found that there are a few exceptions to this but this was the general rule.

Front loader machines are typically more popular in Europe but are increasingly available in the US. Typically they use less water, in fact they use from one third to half the amount that top loaders use. This it seems is because the clothes tumble in the tub and rise about the water and then fall back into it as the tub rolls round. As there is less water used, there is also less gas or electricity required to heat the water. The machines spin faster so the clothes get wrung out more and this then reduces to cost of running a clothes dryer. We were fast warming to this.

We then quickly realised that front loaders have one major drawback, they cost more than top loaders to buy. Some top loaders are very energy efficient these days but it definitely seemed that on the whole the front loader machines would save money over the years on energy costs for running.

We really thought about the running costs and discovered that washing machines are really costly pieces of equipment to run. We also realised that up to 90% of the energy used to wash a load of laundry actually comes from heating the water so we really needed a machine that washed efficiently at low temperatures.

ifb washing machine 6.5 kg front load We really needed to understand the energy guide labels on the machines so that we could really get a good idea of the running costs involved.. The labels show how much energy is consumed by that model measure in kWh and how the specific washing machine compares to similar models and an estimated early operating cost. We soon realised this is a valuable tool for washing machine comparisons as it the Department of Energy who calculates this information and not the manufacturer so it genuinely shows the best rated washing machine.

We also found out about Energy Star and discovered that in general an Energy Star washing machine uses up to 50% less energy than other similar machines.

For many years it seems that guides compared top loading machines with similar size top loaders and front loading washers with similar size front loaders. Now however, since front loaders are widely available in the US, manufacturers are required to provide information that compares all washing machines of a certain size with all others of the same size. The idea of this is to show consumers quickly which are the highly energy efficient washers and hopefully spur competition between manufacturers.

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