Since writing this article the highest energy ratings have moved from A+ to A++ and then A+++. But I don’t expect this to affect the principle of the points made here. In fact I would expect the difference between an A++ and A+++ to be even less than the differences described in the article for A and A+.
The main thrust of this article is to show you how you can easily get conned into buying an appliance with a better energy rating that is going to cost you more in the long run. When the energy ratings first came out they highlighted substantial differences between different brands of white goods. It didn’t take long though before they all got their act together and started producing appliances that used less energy. The problem is that we are now at a stage where there is very little difference between washing machine’s energy usage these days.
Doing research for this article I checked one of the big price comparison sites and filtered out washing machines by energy label ratings. You’ll notice that the majority of washing machines have the same rating. Since writing this article most will have changed to A+ or even higher but the trend is for manufacturers to make sure most of their appliances get the highest rating – by hook or by crook.
Washing machine energy rating class
- A : 355 washing machines
- A+ : 224
- A++ : 8
- B : 85
- C : 33
- D : 1
- G : 3
The 3 rated only G are all top loaders, which few of us buy in the UK. And the few rated B or less appear to be washer dryers. The 8 rated A++ (the best rating) are all very large capacity washing machines, but the overwhelming majority are all rated A or A+. So the question is, if you buy one with the highest energy rating will you save a lot of money?
What's the difference between an A e A+ energy rating?
I picked two random washing machines from each class with the same 6Kg drum capacity
Energy class A Bosch – 1.2 kWh per wash
Energy Class A+ Miele – 1.02 kWh per wash
The difference between the A and A+ per wash is 0.18 kWh, which means the A+ rated washing machine would use just a fraction over 1kWh of electricity (one unit) less than the A rated one approximately every 6 washes, or roughly once a week for many.
My electricity costs are currently 9.6 pence per unit for the bulk of my electricity, so as we wash once a day, the difference in energy costs would be roughly about 10 pence more for the A energy rated one each week – around £5 or £6 a year. Hardly anything to get excited about – especially if the A+ one costs more to buy in the first place and my research indicates they often do.
Some may not cost any less at all
I also checked 2 random washing machines with large capacity 7Kg drums. An A rated Zanussi ZWF16581Wi which costs 1.19 kWh per wash and a Hoover OPH714D A+ which also costs 1.19 kWh per wash. One has an A rating and the other an A+ but both show the exact same energy usage costs. (one's a 1600 and the other a 1400 spin)
If more energy efficient also means more to buy, it can cut heavily into any potential savings
This isn’t an involved investigation so I haven’t studied lots of washing machines, but buying an appliance that has a better energy rating isn’t likely to save much money if it costs £50 more to buy in the first place so as always you should remember that that buying choices are much more complex than simply picking appliances with a lower energy rating or low water usage etc..
My point is that there is no significant difference between the majority of washing machines these days so you need to weigh up all of the differences including reliability and purchase costs before automatically favouring a lower energy rated appliance.
I selected all the A energy rated washing machines from a leading price comparison site and listed them in "cheapest first" order. The first 12 washing machines were all between £150 and £200. I then selected all the A+ rated washers and the cheapest one was £200. So at the budget end at least you can pay up to £50 more for an A+ rated one and may never really recoup that money in energy savings or it could take several years.
NOTE: I’ve only researched energy use in washing machines. Some other appliances may have more variance in energy usage (especially refrigeration appliances) though the principle remains that you shouldn’t just dismiss an appliance if it has a slightly lower energy rating if it is a much better quality appliance, or maybe a lot cheaper too. Try to find out what these differences equate to in real world money. And don’t forget that more savings are likely to be made by making sure you buy your energy from a cheaper supplier.
A perfect example of my point can be found through my experience of recently ordering double glazing. I ordered £8000 worth of double glazing and doors, but when the official order came through I noticed they were only rated with an energy rating of C. I was very disappointed and quickly took to the Internet. I found a different supplier with energy ratings of A and seriously considered cancelling and going with them.
I then decided to check what the potential difference in savings between these two energy ratings were and was shocked to discover that the difference in energy saving projections from C rated double glazing and A rated windows was just several pounds a year and not worth worrying about at all.
Related article: Reduce the energy costs of running your white goods appliances