Should you buy an energy efficient washing machine?

These days it’s almost unheard of for households to not own a washing machine – the days of hand washing are all but behind us and the washing machine is ubiquitous in Australian homes. However, many people are still in the dark about their washing machines when it comes to energy efficiency.

How energy efficient is your washing machine? Is it worth buying a new, more efficient model in order to save money on electricity? Or should you just soldier on with your current machine and save hundreds of dollars on buying a new one?

It’s likely that many choose to stick with a cheaper, less efficient washing machine because they either don’t want to, or can’t afford to take that large initial hit to their bank balance, and can’t visualise the long term savings of owning a washing machine that’s cheaper to run.

So we decided to crunch the numbers on three different front loader washing machines to see whether or not it really does pay to buy energy efficient. We looked at one 2 star, one 3.5 star and one 5 star rated model to find out whether there’s a tangible long-term benefit to purchasing an initially more expensive washing machine.

We came up with these figures using the base assumption that the average Australian household runs their washing machine 14 times a week (twice a day). If you run your washing machine more than 14 times a week, your running costs will be higher than the costs in this article. Also note that these figures are based on 14 warm washes a week, so if even a few of your weekly washes are cold, you’ll use less electricity, and your annual running costs will be lower than the costs in this article.

Keep in mind that these calculations don’t include the cost of water and that this will be an additional cost on top of the purchase price and electricity use. This comparison is based on an electricity cost of $0.29/kWh. Electricity rates vary across the country, so keep this in mind, too.

The 2 star model – Midea MFWS512

With a 2 star energy rating, but a 3.5 star water rating, this washing machine from Midea offers eight different programs including cotton, wool, cold and quick washes. It uses 53L of water per wash and has a capacity of 5kg.

  • Purchase price – $529
  • Energy consumption – 405kWh
  • Energy used each year – 810kWh
  • Annual running cost – $232
  • Running costs over 10 years – $2,325
  • Total cost of ownership over 10 years – $2,854

The 3.5 star model – LG WD14022D6

Equipped with a number of handy features including time delay and a self-diagnosis system, this washing machine from LG offers 13 different washing programs. It has a 3.5 star energy rating, a 4 star water rating, a capacity of 7.5kg, and uses 77L of water per wash, meaning that while it’s more water-efficient than the 2 star model, it uses more water per wash.

  • Purchase price – $845
  • Energy consumption – 375kWh
  • Energy used each year – 750kWh
  • Annual running cost – $215
  • Running costs over 10 year – $2,153
  • Total cost of ownership over 10 years – $2,998

The 5 star model – Asko W6444A

The most efficient model on this list for both energy and water use (5 and 4.5 stars respectively), this Asko washing machine comes with features including anti-flood protection and door locking, and uses 60L of water per wash. It offers 10 different wash programs, including wool, hand-wash, and a heavy-duty cycle.

  • Purchase price – $1,399
  • Energy consumption – 150kWh
  • Energy used each year – 300kWh
  • Annual running cost – $86
  • Running costs over 10 years – $861
  • Total cost of ownership over 10 years – $2,260

How much could you save?

After comparing the three models and their running costs, some important things quickly become obvious. If we’re looking at the total running costs over 10 years, the 5 star model would cost you around $600-700 less than the 3.5 and 2 star models. However, if we look at initial purchase prices, the 5 star model costs about $870 more than the 2 star model and roughly $550 more than the 3.5 star model.

So essentially the level of efficiency you’ll choose will come down to whether you’re looking to save money now by buying a cheaper model, or in the long term by purchasing a more efficient model.

But while price might be your main deciding factor, you should also consider the environmental aspect. A more energy efficient machine is better for the environment, as is a more water efficient machine. So unless you really can’t afford a more efficient model, it might be worth considering upgrading to a washing machine that you can really feel good about owning and running. As we’ve found, you can save significantly in the long run.

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