Washers & dryers
Most households have several loads of washing to get through every week, using a significant amount of electricity to wash and dry each load. Follow our tips to help you to stop your laundry appliances cleaning up at your expense.
Energy sense tips
- Wash clothes in cold water using an economy cycle, to save on water heating costs, reduce water use and washing times. Modern fabrics and detergents deliver excellent results in cold water.
- Wash a full load instead of many smaller loads.
- Adjust the water level to economically wash a partial load or wait until you have enough for a full load.
- Use the sun to dry your clothes instead of using the dryer. Just two loads in the dryer each week could end up costing you around $50 a year1.
- Spin clothes well before putting them in the dryer. Don't mix heavyweight and lightweight articles in the same load as they take longer to dry.
- Let items tumble dry freely so hot air can flow more efficiently through the machine, resulting in faster drying times and less creasing.
- Clean your dryer's lint filter after each load and keep the room well-ventilated so that the dryer runs more efficiently.
- Consider a front loader. If you're thinking of buying a new washing machine, choose a more energy-efficient front loader, instead of a top loader. You may pay a little more up front, but you'll save around 50%2 on electricity.
- Upgrade your washer or dryer to a new energy efficient model with a high energy star rating. Some dryers have sensors which detect when the washing is dry and then shut the dryer off, saving energy and avoiding over-drying. If purchasing a washer, also consider the water star rating.
About star ratings
The Energy Rating Labelling Scheme is a national program to support the development and supply of energy efficient appliances by providing clear and objective information.
This information is intended to help customers understand the energy requirements and running costs of different appliances and help them to choose an appliance which best meets their needs.
When buying a new washer or dryer, check the energy rating label. These labels provide a comparative assessment of the appliance's energy efficiency and typical annual energy usage (in kilowatt hours per year).
For more information on energy labelling visit the Energy Rating Labelling Scheme website. Here you’ll also find a handy Energy Rating Calculator where you can compare the consumption and running costs of various appliances by brand, star rating or energy consumption.
Washing machines will also have a water star label which is applied under the WELS water efficiency labelling scheme. These labels provide information about the appliance's water usage (in litres per use).
For more information, visit the WELS program website.
Types of washers & dryers
If you're in the market for a new washer or dryer, there's a wide range of models available with different features and settings to suit your needs.
Whichever you choose, you'll need to ensure it's appropriately sized for the space available and can be plumbed and/or ventilated effectively.
Top loading washing machines
Most top loaders use a large agitator in the centre of the bowl which moves the washing around in the water. This process cleans garments quickly and thoroughly, but can be damaging to some fabrics.
Some have a smaller agitator with a low profile, while others have only a ridged bump in the bottom of the bowl called an impeller. These models can tangle items and experience balance issues more frequently than those with large agitators.
Top loaders are generally cheaper to purchase than front loaders, are lighter and offer faster wash cycles. However, they can also use more water and electricity, adding to their running costs.
Front loading washing machines
Front loaders use a tumbling action to turn and wash clothes, which can use less electricity and water than a top loader and are better able to redistribute unbalanced wash loads.
These work by gently turning the washing over and over in a tumbling action, a process which is quite gentle on clothes. However, they can be heavier, noisier and more expensive than top loaders and the wash cycles generally run for longer.
Vented clothes dryer
Vented clothes dryers work by tumbling clothes in hot dry air while expelling the hot damp air from the unit. If you are unable to vent the hot air directly outside via the hose attachment, they should be located in an open laundry, near a window or other type of ventilation.
Units like this can be cheaper to purchase and use less electricity than a condenser unit, but require effective ventilation to avoid condensation and damp issues.
Condenser clothes dryer
Condenser units also tumble clothes in hot dry air, but then use water to condense steam back into water. This process can use large volumes of water in the drying process. The water is diverted into a container and can then be manually emptied from the container or pumped out directly.
These units may offer more convenience as they don't require venting, but can be more expensive to purchase.
A washer dryer combo is a single unit that functions as a front loading washing machine and a condenser clothes dryer. These units are a compact option for those with limited room for a separate washer and dryer.
However, while the performance of the washing machine component can be comparable to other front loaders, the dryer component is often very inefficient with water and electricity.
A standard washing and drying cycle can lasts over 5 hours, with a wash cycle at around 2 hours and a drying cycle around 3 hours. Using a condenser dryer they can then use large volumes of water for the drying cycle.
They also tend to have a smaller capacity for drying than washing, requiring the wash load to be split into two separate drying cycles and further increasing the total cycle duration.
1. Based on running two 45 minute loads in a 2.4kW dryer with 5kg capacity.
2. Based on comparing a large automatic 600W top loader with a large automatic 300W front loader.