Ever have to deal with appliances that are a little less than efficient? While I was grateful for our washing machine, I had to admit it had seen better days.
With the workout my family gives our appliances every day (try keeping a soon to be 6-year-old clean); an upgrade was definitely becoming a priority. It was time for me to get in on the new age of laundry.
Thanks to technology and manufacturers' attempts to please the ever-demanding consumer, washing machines have become more "intelligent" and able to detect soil levels and water needs. There are also washers that remember your "favorite" cycle and treat stains with hot or cold water depending on the need.
Who knew? And the cost is anywhere from $400 to $1,900, depending on the type, capacities and other bells and whistles that you want.
Here's what Macon-Bibb Cooperative Extension would like for you to know before you think about upgrading or purchasing a washer.
Decide on the type of washing machine you would like: Do you prefer traditional top-loading machines or front-loaders? Top-load and front-load units share many of the same functional features, while style-wise there are a few differences.
Top-loaders require no bending or kneeling; they have a larger capacity, a traditional look and are less expensive. Front-loaders also have a large capacity, can be stacked with a corresponding dryer, are capable of providing additional storage space underneath if you purchase one with pedestals, and sport a more modern look.
Size up your space: Larger capacity washers often result in washing machines that are 2 or 3 inches wider than the usual 27 inches. Measure the space you have to work with and allow at least 6 inches behind the washing machine for water hookups, and about 1 inch between the washer and dryer.
Noise levels: If you're planning to put your washing machine near bedrooms or a family room, consider noise levels. You should know they're working but they shouldn't disturb you (Moms need peace and quiet, too!).
Evaluate your laundry needs: How many loads of laundry do you wash each week? If you have a large family, or if you're a planning a family, consider a big washer that can handle large loads. Think towels, towels and more towels.
Do you often have heavily soiled clothes like sports uniforms? A machine that provides extra-long wash and presoaking cycles will get them clean. In contrast, if you tend to have slightly soiled garments, a washer with a quick-wash option may be of interest to you.
Consider the true cost: High-efficiency (or HE) washing machines are available in both front-loading and top-loading designs. In general, they use less water than traditional washers. Clothes are repeatedly tumbled through a small amount of water, so the water level does not need to rise to the top of the clothes.
Since a sizeable percentage of the cost of washing clothes comes from heating the water; using less water means lower utility bills. Additionally, the high-speed spin cycle squeezes more water out of the clothes, so they dry faster, requiring less energy from your dryer.
With the higher capacity of HE front-loading washers (and some HE top-loaders as well), you'll do fewer loads overall -- another good way to save energy and money (keeping the husband happy!).
Contact county Extension agent Keishon J. Thomas at 478-751-6338 or firstname.lastname@example.org.