How to choose

Last reviewed: March 2011

Most of the energy and money savings in laundry come from improvements in washer technology. So pick the washer first. Remember that except for style, there's little reason to replace a working dryer with one with moisture sensors. Look online for rebates from manufacturers and utilities and then consider:

Top- or front-loader?

Top-loading washers with a center-post agitator usually cost the least and wash the fastest. But wash performance is often mediocre or worse, and they use more water and energy. High-efficiency top-loaders don't have a conventional agitator, so they hold more laundry. They use less water and spin faster than conventional top-loaders, resulting in less dryer time and energy savings. Front-loaders are generally the most efficient, using the least water and spinning even faster. They also have large capacities. But 8 percent of failures or repairs reported by our readers were due to mold.

Get a dryer with a sensor

Pass on thermostat models; ones with a moisture sensor have done a better job of turning off the machine before laundry is overdried, so fabrics aren't subjected to unnecessary heat, and energy isn't wasted. Most full-size dryers can hold an average load, but choose a model with an excellent capacity score if you frequently dry big, bulky items. And stainless-steel tubs look impressive but don't improve performance.