Tuesday, April 16

High Efficiency Washers & Dryers: Things to Know

We've had our new washer & dryer for a several months now, and I've been thinking I should review them here. We did a ton of research before picking our new set, and there wasn't quite as much practical info as I would have liked. So in hopes of helping other people decide, here are some facts and pointers for anyone considering purchasing a high efficiency, energy-star washer/dryer.

1. Buy them on sale. We were able to snag ours on sale the week before Christmas, and it was great! We also got them at Lowe's, where there's a military discount. If you have a friend/family member in the military and have the cash to do it, consider asking them to purchase your machines for you and just give them the money. You can save 10%, which adds up to a lot when you're talking about two items as pricy as these.

2. Get them installed. We pretty much do everything we can ourselves, including carting stuff home and installing it. These were the exception, and I'm so glad! In addition to being heavy (and needing to fit in an awkward space), these needed serious attention and patience to calibrate. When completely properly leveled, they are rock solid and nearly silent. If they are even the teeniest bit off, they rock and make a lot more noise. (Nothing obnoxious, but noticeable.) It is absolutely worth what it costs to have someone come install it for you. The guys from Lowes who did ours were amazing from start to finish. When the left, the machines were all but silent... then we had to move the washer a smidge to fix a wiring issue and it hasn't been the same since.

3. Check your cords. Washers and dryers apparently do not come with cords; they must be ordered separately. So know exactly what kind of hookups you have before you head for the store so you can ensure you have the right one. (Ditto for the vent pipe on your dryer.) Furthermore, some places will not install without a new cord - make sure you check and know the policy wherever you buy yours.

4. They take a lot longer. I am completely happy with our machines, and they definitely use a lot less energy. But as a trade off, every cycle on the washer is decidedly longer than the corresponding cycle in a standard machine. That's not an issue for me, but if you're like Jen Hatmaker (author of 7) and in the habit of throwing clothing in the washer an hour before you're supposed to be somewhere you're going to find yourself consistently screwed. I don't always agree with the dryer on what "done" looks like, so I sometimes run a manual cycle after whatever standard cycle I've chosen (permanent press, dedicates, etc) just to finish things off.

5. They can be stubborn. Cycles and their features (water temp, spin level) are set, and some won't let you adjust them. So if you have clothing that doesn't quite fit a given cycle, you may have to use the manual cycle and just come close to your ideal wash setting.  The washer also chooses the water setting it considers appropriate to the volume of a load; I have heard that some people manually add a few cups of water because they don't feel it's enough, but I've been quite satisfied with ours and haven't seen the need to intervene that way.

6. They sing. Again, not a huge deal around here - I just don't leave the dryer running when we're on our way to bed or it will wake us up singing when it's done. I imagine, however, that if you had a baby napping close enough to hear the chiming it could be crazy annoying. So if you're in that kind of situation, make sure you select a model that has the option to turn the chiming off - because not all of them do.

All things considered, our new machines are awesome and I'm so glad we have them. They keep up with the puppy fur, renovating dust and spring mud without complaint and I am no longer concerned about the housing burning down because I tried to do laundry.

If you're considering a new washer/dryer, do you homework! There are a lot of options out there, and considering the expense of even the cheaper models, it's well worth getting something that fits your needs and lifestyle.

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