Washers and dryers are essential major purchases for most families. If cared for carefully according to the manufacturers recommendations, they can last for around 14 years, so most families will only ever need to purchase a total of three or four sets. It is helpful to think about what makes for cost-efficient, long-lasting models.
M/F The average family does about 400 loads of laundry each year. This amounts to nearly eight loads each week. At this rate, the average washing machine lasts for 14 years, and the average dryer lasts for 13 years. Of course, if yours is a smaller or larger family, you can adjust the predicted life expectancies of your appliances based on how many loads of laundry you average per week.
M/F According to the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, heating the water uses most of the washing machine's energy. So, washing machine models that have received the Energy Star label by the Environmental Protection Agency will save a lot of money over the lifetime of the machine because they cut the amount of water per load in half. Standard washing machines take an average of 40 gallons of water to do a full load, while machines labeled with the Energy Star use only 18-25 gallons. Not only does this cut down on the cost of the water, it also nearly cuts the energy used per load (and its cost therefore)in half as well.
M/F Gas dryers, according to Good Housekeeping, cost more to buy but less to operate than electric dryers. While there is no equivalent energy labeling program for dryers, it saves money to run the dryer when it is filled with clothes. The amount of heat used to run the dryer does not change if the load is larger or smaller. Even more important to the life of the dryer is keeping the lint screen clean. The filter should be cleaned with each new load.
M/F A few other pointers help in the selection of washing machines and dryers. Front loading washing machines tend to be more efficient than top loading models according to the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy. This organization also suggests that front loading washers may also get clothes cleaner. The hoses that fill washers with water should be changed every five years for the best performance. Dryers that spin at higher speeds may also be economic to run since they shorten the time it takes for the clothes to dry. Dryers that can shut themselves off at the end of the cycle also save money but may make for more wrinkles if you forget to remove the clothes as soon as the tumbler stops.
M/F In 1998, The National Association of Home Builders published that it costs between $240-650 to replace a dryer. They also project that washing machines cost between $260-700 to replace. The costs of replacing these appliances in 2008 started at this same price, but the most expensive models cost closer to $1,000. Lowe's recommends the namebrand washers and dryers made by GE, Maytag, Whirlpool and Amana. These companies have consistently produced the appliances that last, work well, and match the decor of any laundry room.