Front Loading Washer & Dryers – Is it Time to Upgrade?

For the past five years or so, high efficiency (H.E.) front loading washers and dryers have been all the rage. Not only do they look neat with all the digital features, they’re cool with new colors – red, blue, silver — never seen before in our hum-drum laundry rooms. Things are looking up!

What is a High Efficiency Front Loading Washer?

First off, what is a H.E. front loading washer? Most are front loading washers like the type you’d see in a laundromat. They are characterized by: 3

A Rotating Drum that tumbles clothes through less water Dryer Repair Los Angeles. This compared to a top loader which rubs clothes against an agitator in a tub full of water.

A High Pressure Spray Rinsing that saves water and helps get soap out of clothes.

A faster Spin Cycle that cuts down on water and causes clothes to be “drier” out of the washer.

A More Efficient Motor and Automatic Sensing that conserves water and energy.

Top Loading Machines

Top loading machines are the most common type of washing machines. Laundry is deposited and withdrawn from the top of the machine. Top loading machines are best for people who have back problems as it’s easier to get to the load without bending or kneeling over. These machines are less costly and tend to be more reliable. So why “throw in the towel (and your socks too!)” and upgrade your laundry machines now? Let’s delve further into high efficiency front loading machines.

H.E. Front Loading High Efficiency Machines

H.E. Front Loading machines have been around enough now that there is ample information available on their benefits and drawbacks:

BENEFITS:

– Save Money – these machines use far less water and electricity than top loading machines. H.E. machines only fill up partially with water. They lift the clothes up and drop them back into the water, instead of totally emerging them in water as do top loaders.

Studies show that H.E. machines use up to 50% less water and 50-65% less energy than top loading machines. 5 The U.S. Department of Energy calculates savings of up to $50 a year in utility costs. 3 A $100 a year savings in utility costs is even possible with the best energy efficient machines as compared to your old 15 year old top loading washing machine. 3

– Load Capacity – most H.E. machines can handle more clothes with capacities ranging from 12-20 pound loads.

– Cleaner Laundry – because of their tumbling and drop action, they can clean clothes more fully. Reports from consumer reports and CNET reviews confirm clothes are cleaner.

– Drier Clothes Out of the Washer – due to moisture extraction in the spin cycle. This also aids with reduced energy consumption. Drier clothes from the washer mean less time for clothes to dry, which equates energy consumption reduction.

– Good for the Environment – due to less energy consumption and water usage. A family of four could reduce their water usage by up to 8,0000 gallons a year using H.E. machines. 4

– Stackable – Front loaders can be stacked, making more for space in smaller laundry rooms.

– Home Network Integration – believe it or not, models such as the LG SteamWasher can be integrated into your home network and can show you the washer’s progress on your computer!

– High Capacity – purchasing a large capacity H.E. machine will allow you to double the amount of clothes you can put into the washer. A person with a family of 5, is now able to wash all the bed linens in one load — a feat not even thought possible with a top loader.

NOTE on Detergent: High Efficiency (H.E.) machines work best with low-foaming, high-efficiency detergent which is made specifically for H.E. machines. These detergents are formulated for low water levels and tumbling action. H.E. detergents are comparable in price to normal detergents. Using regular detergents in H.E. machines creates too many suds which will make it harder to get the soap out of the clothes.

DRAWBACKS:

– Vibration – some H.E. models vibrate excessively during the spin cycle. It depends where you place your washing machine. If you place it on concrete, the vibration will be pretty much absorbed. However, putting it on a wood framed floor will cause the vibrations to be more noticeable. Newer models include reduced vibration features.

– You Snooze You Lose – if you forget to put something in the washer after you pressed the start button – the item is going to have to wait until the next laundry load. The door locks so that water doesn’t pour out onto your floor. NOTE: Some models now offer a pause button which allows you to add extra laundry after the load has started.

– Digital Breakdowns – some of the higher end models use digital screens which allow you to customize your washing experience. However, digital components can break down or be confusing and this can greatly decrease your front loader experience. Repairing digital components can be costly.

– Mold Growth – there have been numerous complaints about strange odors coming from these machines. H.E. machines harbor moisture which promotes mold growth, hence the noticeable smell. Mold growth can be prevented by leaving the washer door open after a load is done and through a little preventative maintenance. To decrease the presence of mold, add 3/4 cup of bleach to your white laundry cycle to remove any build up in the machine.

– Run Time – H.E. machines tend to take longer – expect at least one hour for the wash to be completed. Expect 1 1/2 hours for the special allergen cycles.

Important Features

When shopping for a H.E. front loading machine, here are some features to keep in mind:

– ENERGY STAR – ensure your washer is ENERGY STAR – which means the government has declared it to be an energy efficient appliance. While ENERGY STAR does not label dryers, be sure to choose one with a moisture sensor so that the machine will automatically shut off once the clothes are dry.

– Capacity – determine the size of washer needed ahead of time. A larger family points to a larger capacity needed.

– Several Water Level Options – or Automatic water Level Sensing. Water level options allow you to reduce water usage by adjusting water to the size of your load.

– Yellow Energy Guide Label

Choose a model with a high Modified Energy Factor (MEF) and a low Water Factor (WF). This is a valuable tool in determining how much energy it takes to use the machine and how it ranks compared to other models. The label also provides an estimate of annual operating costs.

– High Spin Speeds – helps to wring out the water from the clothes before going into the dryer.

– Steam – steaming your clothes rather than washing them is more efficient as it loosens up dirt and freshens up and sanitizes clothes. Steaming clothes also reduces water usage as the tub is not filled with water. Both washers and dryers can offer this feature, but not all models offer steam. 2

– Quiet – front loaders are amazingly quiet. Yes, you still hear them but you’ll notice a big reduction in volume. Also, because front loaders balance the load better, you won’t hear that loud banging noise like you do with top loaders when the laundry load becomes unbalanced.

– Delayed Start – washing machines have now joined the fray of delayed starts just like their oven and dishwasher counterparts. With some models, you can set your H.E. machine to begin washing a load at a certain hour. You can start it at 4am to be ready for the dryer by the time you awake, which reduces the amount of time wet laundry sits in the washer.

– Allergy Clean – some models offer a special high temperature cycle designed to reduce certain allergens. It helps to reduce dust mite populations and is particularly useful for bedding and pillows.

– Automatic dispensers – fill up the dispensers with detergent, fabric softener, and bleach to automatically dispense at the right time. This is HUGE for people used to top loaders. With a top loader, many of us put the detergent in first, then fill the tub with water, then put the clothes in. This takes a good amount of time and you need to be around to complete the steps. Not so with a front loader. The front loader takes in the detergent along with water and ensures the detergent is thoroughly mixed before combining it with the clothes.

– Extra Rinse Cycle – for those people who are extra sensitive to detergent being in their clothes.

– Pedestal with Bottom Drawer – pedestals can be purchased separately for approximately $250 each to make it easier to reach inside your washer and provide for extra storage. As pedestals are hollow inside, they will not help much against a heavily vibrating machine. Some people build platforms out of wood or concrete to add height to their washer and dryer rather than purchase pedestals.

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