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BUYING GUIDE TO
ENERGY-EFFICIENT WASHING MACHINES

Europeans who visit America find much to marvel at, but there's always room for quiet astonishment at the top-loading washing machines which, while easier on the back than front-loaders, waste copious amounts of water, wear out clothes prematurely, leave them wet and, to a European eye, dingy.

Americans have used top-loaders since the days of the hand-cranked wringer machines--but that's changing. A host of appliance makers, from European companies like Asko to U.S. standbys like Maytag and Amana, are invading the American market with water-efficient, high-speed front loaders that cost more up front but can save up to $100 a year in utility bills. At the same time, the laundry room is steadily becoming more environmentally safe with detergents and bleaches that are kind to the groundwater-and to clothes as well.

John Morrill of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) says the industry is motivated by the possibility of new federal government regulations. "But energy efficiency is a strategic direction for some companies, even without a national standard," he says.

Top-loading machines fill with water and use an agitator to circulate the clothes. Front loaders spin on a horizontal axis (like laundromat machines), and use a third less water, a third less heat energy, and a third less detergent. That efficiency has some drawbacks: European machines traditionally have smaller capacities and take more time to cycle than their American competitors.

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Article originally published in E/The Environmental Magazine
By Jim Motavalli


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