It goes without saying that choosing a high-efficiency washing machine over a conventional model will save money on your utility bills. But you might be surprised to learn that the savings can exceed $100 per year, according to a white paper released this week by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy. Even better: Consumer Reports' washing machine Ratings include a few dozen recommended high-efficiency models, including eight CR Best Buys that sell for as little as $700.
The purpose of the ACEEE white paper was to identify energy and water savings for the residential and commercial washing machine markets. Roughly eight in 10 U.S. households now have a washing machine. While Energy Star market share rose from 4 percent in 1997 to 64 percent in 2010, that still leaves a lot of inefficient washers in homes around the country. In Indiana and Ohio, two states considered closely in the paper, Energy Star market share was below 50 percent.
Looking specifically at residents of Indianapolis, Indiana, the study found that the most energy and water efficient washer on the market would cost just under $50 dollars per year to operate, compared with $140 dollars per year for a conventional model. The savings would be greater in states with higher electricity and water costs, such as New York and Pennsylvania.
If you're shopping for a washer, you can choose between front-loading and top-loading high-efficiency models. Both use less water in their wash cycles and their higher spin speeds reduce drying time by extracting more water. Front-loaders earned the highest overall scores in our washing machine tests, combining superb washing performance and efficiency, like the top-rated Maytag Maxima XL MHW7000AW for $1,150. Top-loaders, including the CR Best Buy Samsung WA422PRHD, $800, tend to cost less while offering larger capacities.
To find the most efficient washing machines, check the results of our washing machine tests. Many of the top-rated washers have matching dryers that also did well in our tests.