Eco friendly, energy efficient washing machines and dryers

Eco friendly, energy efficient washing machines and dryers

Kay Hill looks at high and low tech ways of cutting energy use and costs when it comes to laundry and keeping your household in clean dry clothing and bedlinen

Gorenje A+++ rated W8543 Colour Edition washing machine and heat pump dryer

If white goods bore you to death, perhaps a zesty orange washing machine could make doing the laundry more fun. Slovenian brand Gorenje has Colour Editions, such as its orange A+++-rated W8543 washing machine and A++ rated D8565 heat pump dryer. And look for machines with super quick washes - such as the SERVIS silver-fronted W814FLHD A+++-rated machine which as a 12-minute quick wash and a 1400rpm spin, £480.

Painting the Forth Bridge is a breeze compared with doing the laundry for a family. We all want clean dry clothes whatever the weather, but for those who want clean hands as well when it comes to the environment, what are the points to consider?
 
The obvious thing that everyone looks for is the energy efficiency rating.
 
From this year the ratings have changed, so that only washing machines that score an A grade can be manufactured (although you may still see older models on sale with lower grades). To help differentiate, new grades of A+, A++ and A+++ have been introduced, but the differentials are small.
 
An A+ appliance will use 25 per cent less energy than an A-rated product, while an A+++ machine will save you up to 60 per cent - which sounds impressive until you realise, according to Which? that it only makes the difference between spending £35 a year to wash four loads of washing a week compared with £9 a year for an A+++, i.e an annual saving of just £26 or 50 pence a week.
Maytag MTD 09HPWH1 heat pump tumble dryer is rated A-50% while the MWA10149WH has a 10kg drum  and a 1400rpm spin, A+++ energy rating
Great if you have a range cooker...Classic Kitchen Maid airers are made in the UK from cast iron and FSC-certified wood, from £41. www.castinstyle.co.uk
Swedish ISE washing machine are made to last at least 21 years. The A++ W288eco spins at 1800rpm for drier washing, £1,099
Beech wood retro clothed drier, £35, from www.aplaceforeverything.co.uk
Servis W814FLHD A+++ washing machine has a 12-min quick wash and 1400rpm spin. £480. www.servis.co.uk
Smeg pastel blue A+ washing machine has a 7kg drum, 1400rpm spin and a 15-minute wash. £813
Minimal energy use doesn't always equate to brilliant cleaning
 
Which?' latest report on washing machines also says that manufacturers are making increasingly energy and water-efficient appliances, and while 'this is good news for the environment, with many new models carrying the same rating it can be difficult to work out which ones are more energy-efficient than others.
 
'Unfortunately, extreme energy efficiency is not always a good thing for you as a consumer: some of the washing machines we've tested that use the smallest amount of electricity and water also produce the worst results. A washing machine needs to balance good cleaning with relatively low energy and water use.'
 
Washing machine labels also used to carry a washing efficiency rating. But now the EU insists all machines must meet the A-standard there's no official way of telling which ones are most likely to get mud out of rugby kit or grass stains out of your lad's cricket whites.
 
Andy Trigg, service engineer and blogger at whitegoodshelp.co.uk also feels that the energy efficiency rating is a blunt instrument when it comes to washing machines: 'Because buying decisions are so complex and difficult to work out, it's easy to rely on energy rating labels too much.
 
'What if you choose a more energy-efficient washing machine because of environmental concerns without realising that this washing machine damages the environment more than another one because of the way it’s manufactured, or the distance it's travelled round the world compared to one made in your own country, or because of its poor reliability record or lack of longevity?'
 
If you don't have a garden, Dutch brand Brabantia's WallFix driers allow for outside drying. From £79. brabantia.com
AEG's OKO Kombi washer/dryer uses a heat pump for dry at 70 degrees C. A-40% energy rating, 9kg wash, 6kg drying capacity. 1600 rpm spin. £1,299
Lakeland's DrySoon 3-tier Heated Airer, £92.99 costs 5 pence an hour to run (approx). www.lakeland.co.uk
Siemens WM14Y890GB is A+++ rated, has an 8kg drum and 1400rpm spin. it senses how much detergent and softener to add. £900
Hoover's Dynamic Aquavision with heat pump technology has an A-40% energy rating and dries at lower temperatures. www.hoover.co.uk
Devol Kitchen's de luxe Laundry Maid is made from brushed aluminium ash and jute, £150
Whirlpool's new AZA 9791 Heat Pump 9kg tumble dryer. A+ £650
So if your head's spinning at 1200rpm, Kenneth Watt, MD at UK White Goods aims to help. 'A lot of cheating goes on with energy efficiency ratings so it’s like the mpg figure for cars – nothing like the real world. Did you know they bring in professional folders and packers to maximise the load? A wash cycle costs only 10-15 pence, so most people won't notice the difference between an A and an A+++ machine...it’s just a numbers game to sell you new stuff that you don’t really need.'
 
Beware cheap machines with inbuilt obsolescence
 
Watt points out that the biggest growth market in washing machines is in the sub-£300 category. Yes, they're affordable, but it's a false economy because a lot of these machines are designed with a lifespan of just 600-1,000 washes.
 
Mr or Mrs Average Person generates around 117 loads of washing a year, so for the proverbial little old lady living alone, an inexpensive machine may well see her out.
 
However, if you are buying a machine for a family of five, your budget machine is quite likely to pop its clogs the second its two-year warranty expires. For comparison, a mid-market machine will be engineered to last up to 4,000 cycles, while at the top end you can expect 12,000 cycles or quarter of a century of washing for a family of four.
 
UK White Goods is UK importer for ISE washing machines, which are made Sweden and offer a 21-year lifespan. 'If the products we buy last longer the need to produce new ones is reduced and so is the environmental impact,' says Kennth Watt.
 
'ISE was formed to produce long life-span domestic appliances and help break this destructive cycle.
 
'Every new washing machine manufactured uses at least 35.7Kw of electricity, 75.5 litres of water and 2.5kg of carbon. If you were to replace an old ‘energy guzzling’ washing machine with a modern energy-efficient one it would take the average family over two years to claw back the detrimental environmental effect of early replacement. Some machines don’t last that long.'
 
Bosch WAQ28461GB Exxcel VarioPerfect A+++ washing machine has water-saving AquaSpa system. £430
Hills' Portable 120 Clothes Airer, £99.98. 12m drying space and it folds flat. www.clothesairerstore.co.uk
Zanussi ZWF01483 washing machine uses just 57 litres of water per wash, A+++, 1400rpm spin, auto dosing, 30 min quick wash, £479
Swedish made ISE drying cabinets cost around £1000 and are an efficient low energy way of drying laundry
If you have the ceiling height, these are a sensible product. A1330 double racked Gismo Kitchen Maid airer, from £80 at www.castinstyle.co.uk
.
ISE machines are sold through independent dealerships that also service and repair them, which brings to mind another major issue to consider – how easy is the appliance to fix? As machines become ever more complicated even minor repairs end up beyond the reach of the local handyman.
 
Eco designer and campaigner Oliver Heath says we should all think about long-term maintenance:  'It’s worth buying good quality appliances – if something breaks down the instant it’s out of warranty all those eco-figures become meaningless. Buying products capable of being repaired saves energy long-term.'
 
When it comes to washing machines, it seems we are our own worst enemies. 'People don’t even sort their whites from their darks and then wonder why their clothes get ruined,' sighs Kenneth Watt. 'You need to follow care labels - and don't overload your machine.' 
 
Drying...and heat pump technology makes tumble dryers less villainous
 
Dryers have long been berated as gas guzzling eco badboys. 'And if you don’t need to use a tumble dryer then don’t – there’s all that free air and sun outside,' says Watt.
 
But the good news for those who live in cold wet parts and don't want to put the heating on to dry washing is that tumble dryers are not quite the environmental villains they used to be. And this is due in the main to more eco-friendly heat pump technology.
 
Tumble dryer energy efficiency ratings go from D up to A+++, although you will still see manufacturers using figures such as A-40% to show that their product uses 40% less energy than a standard A model. 
 
There are a number of variants of tumble dryer:
 
  • the simplest type just draws in ambient air, heats it and passes it through the tumbler where it picks up moisture from the clothes. The resulting hot, humid air is vented outside to make room for more dry air to continue the drying process. The heat that is created is not re-used, so it is fairly wasteful of energy.
  • Condenser dryers also pass heated air through the washing, but instead of venting it to the outside, a heat exchanger is used to cool the air and condense the water vapour into a drain or tank, releasing the dryer air back into the room to be used again, eliminating the need for venting. Condenser dryers typically use around 15 per cent more power than conventional dryers and also dry clothes more slowly.
  • The most energy-efficient dryers and washer/dryers use the latest heat pump technology, such as AEG’s OKO Kombi Plus. The hot, humid air from the tumbler is passed through a heat pump where the cold side condenses the water vapour into either a drain or tank and the hot side reheats the air afterwards for re-use. There's no need to vent the dryer and it also conserves much of its heat, reducing energy costs by around half.
 
Drying cabinets
 
If you’ve ever been skiing and dried off your wet kit in a drying room overnight, then you’ll be familiar with the concept, but apart from Scandinavia it is relatively new to the domestic environment.
 
ISE offers a compact drying room, around £1,000, that will dry the equivalent of 16 metres of clothes line washing, as well as boots and waterproofs. Not only does it use far less energy during the drying process, but clothes become less creased.
 
 
Oliver Heath is a big fan of the BreezeDry drying room, which he says offers a gentle, eco-friendly alternative to the tumble dryer.  Breeze Dry is a cabinet with hanging and racking space which offers the choice of 'either outdoor air, indoor air or gently warmed air. It uses 90 per cent less energy than a tumble dryer and can be used for the most delicate clothes and footwear. The downside is that it costs £2,230 plus freight costs from the US. 
 
The drying room concept has the big advantage that it is vented to the outside, so no moisture is released into the home (where without proper ventilation it could cause mould).
 
However there are lots of lower tech and lower priced ideas that are still an improvement on the sight of soggy socks draped over radiators. Lakeland offers its nifty Dry Soon Heated Airer, £93, which creates 21m of warmed drying space that costs just 5 pence an hour to operate, or why not celebrate simple physics by making the most of the hotter air close to the ceiling with a Victorian-style laundry maid - always popular with range cooker owners.
 
These can look very attractive – see Devol Kitchens or Cast In Style for some elegant examples of hanging dryers, or A Place for Everything and Clothes Airer Store for free-standing, fold-up designs.
 
 
 
.
.