Very Efficient Clothes Washers

March 10, 2008

Whirlpool DuetSince its inception in 1992, the ENERGY STAR program, a joint program run by the Environmental Protection Agency and the US Department of Energy, has sought to protect the environment by promoting energy efficiency. Starting with personal computers and monitors, ENERGY STAR established energy usage guidelines that set the bar for energy conservation. Over the years the ENERGY STAR program has brought just about anything that uses energy or water under its umbrella, saving an estimated $14 billion in energy costs in 1996. LEED for Homes and the NAHB’s Model Green Building Guidelines both encourage green home builders to use ENERGY STAR rated appliances. For those seeking additional credits – and energy savings – both green building programs encourage the use of very efficient clothes washers. But what exactly is a very efficient clothes washer?

A very efficient clothes washer saves both water and energy. Water Factor (WF) measures the number of gallons per cycle per cubic foot that the washer uses. In order to qualify as a very efficient clothes washer, it must have a WF of less than 5.5. To put that number into perspective, washers that have a WF of 8, the maximum for an ENERGY STAR labeled clothes washer, use up to 10,000 gallons of water a year. One of Asko’s UltraCare clothes washers boasts of a WF of 3.4, using under 3,000 gallons of water a year. Granted, at 1.9 cubic feet the Asko model is quite small, but if water efficiency is the goal, Asko sets the standard.

The Modified Energy Factor (MEF) measures not only the amount of energy used by the washer but also the amount of energy saved by the dryer due to the washer’s water efficiency. A MEF of 1.8 is the minimum to qualify as a very efficient clothes washer. Some manufacturers, like Bosch, Kenmore, LG, Maytag, Samsung, and Whirlpool (pictured above,) offer clothes washers with a MEF of at least 2.5, saving over twice the energy of the federal standard 1.26 MEF.

Remember, to qualify for the very efficient clothes washer credits, the washer must have a WF of less than 5.5 and a MEF of greater than 1.8. While they do not yet have a list of very efficient clothes washers, the ENERGY STAR site does have a list of qualifying ENERGY STAR clothes washers. Look under the WF and MEF columns for qualifying, very efficient clothes washers.

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