It’s interesting to compare how much energy washing machines use, but just buying the lowest energy consumption washing machine could easily be a false economy. I don’t say ignore it completely, but never forget that build quality and reliability are significantly more important.
How much something really costs to run must also include purchase cost – if it doesn’t, it’s not the full picture. If something is cheaper to run but costs a lot more to buy then the purchase costs can cancel out the energy savings, or at least reduce to a less significant level.
How long the washer lasts also heavily impacts on the costs, as well as repair expenses. One breakdown can wipe out any savings, as can a short lifespan. Sadly, repair costs, and how long something will last are complete unknowns, but if you buy an appliance with a reputation for reliability the odds are it will cost less in repairs throughout its life and last longer – so even if it’s more expensive to run that may well prove insignificant. In reality most washing machines don’t vary by that much these days in running costs, especially if you are comparing like with like (ie the same drum capacity).
Checking out some top energy saving appliances
I’ve just researched a list of the top 100 washing machines listed in order of the lowest energy costs per year and it highlights my point. The number 1 washing machine, costing the least per year in electricity is quoted at £30.45 per year. However, number 25 only costs £39.64 – an extra 17 pence a week – which for most people is hardly worth bothering about.
This number 1 (and “cheapest to run”) washer is a brand which doesn’t have a strong reliability and after sales reputation in the UK (according to Which?), and the number 25 is a Bosh, which has a very respectable reputation (relatively speaking) and is cheaper to buy too. So in my opinion the Bosh is a better buy regardless of the “higher running costs”.
Even dropping down to number 100 in the chart is an 8Kg washer costing £369 to buy and £50.61 per year to run. The number 1 (cheapest to run) is also 8Kg and costs £456 to buy and £30.45 a year to run. So even though there are 99 other models above it, the washer listed at number 100 only costs 39 pence a week more to run. It’s surely almost impossible to notice this extra cost.
Fair enough, after 10 years the savings would be £201.60. That’s more like it, but would you honestly notice an extra £201 spread over 10 years? The cheaper model also costs £87 more to buy which reduces the savings to only £114.6 – and that’s assuming it lasts 10 years. All things being equal I’d only go for the cheaper to run model if they were equally good quality machines. To be fair, we can’t forget the rising costs of energy, so savings are likely to be higher – potentially much higher even, but the general principle of trying to see the whole picture is valid because if you choose a machine which uses a lot less energy but it doesn’t wash as well, is unreliable, or doesn’t last very long what’s the point? They are all much more important considerations.
Beware of cost per Kg comparisons
If comparing energy usage costs, the larger drum capacity machines tend to have lower cost per Kg figures because they can wash more laundry in one cycle. There are two things to watch out for though –
- Don’t get fooled into thinking one machine is cheaper to run unless they are the same drum capacity. If one is cheaper to run but it’s 8Kg and you are comparing it with a 6Kg machine it’s not a like for like comparison
- Cost per Kg figures will be based on filling the drum, which many people don’t or can’t do. So an 8, 9 or even 12 kg drums may have lower energy usage costs but the drums can be massive and many people simply don’t have enough laundry to fill them. Not only do they cost more to buy, but they use more water, so unless you regularly fill a large capacity drum with laundry they can work out more expensive to run despite the figures.
The amount of energy an appliance uses is not to be totally ignored, but proper perspective needs to be used. There’s no point choosing an appliance which is £20 a year cheaper to run if it costs £300 more to buy – and isn’t even a well made brand. If it costs a lot more to buy then work out how long it needs to last before the saving significantly outweigh the extra purchasing cost. We shouldn’t forget that energy costs are rising though, but the point is that the most important thing by far is to buy the best quality appliance you can afford, with the best reliability record, otherwise savings in energy usage are pointless.
Check out washing machine reviews from somewhere like Which? who take the big picture into consideration when reviewing and recommending washing machines. They also have “Don’t Buy” recommendations.