The average American household washes 400 loads of laundry each year using thousands of gallons of water, and a huge chunk of energy. Choosing an energy-efficient, water-saving machine makes a big difference, and you'll definitely want to pick an Energy Star-rated appliance.We've rounded up some of the top-performing machines, with details after the jump.Energy Star washers have the government seal of approval for efficiency, and a full list is available on the Energy Star website (note that list includes some models that haven't yet come out). The best models have a high "Modified Energy Factor" (MEF) score, meaning they're energy-efficient, and a low "Water Factor," meaning they use the least amount of water possible. Now is a great time to get a new washer, since you may be able to get a rebate through the federal Cash for Appliances program.
Above the jump, left to right:
1. LG WM3875HVCA: one of the top performers on the Energy Star list. It also has a feature called ColdWash™ Technology that LG claims makes cold water as effective as hot water at cleaning. This is a huge deal, since 90% of the energy used by the typical washer goes to heating water. This is a large-capacity machine, so it's best if you need to do big loads. $1,187.
2. Samsung WF330: another highly energy-efficient, water saving choice. $899.
3. LG model WM2301: another efficient LG choice. Available in bright cherry red. $800-$900.
4. Kenmore's Elite Front-Load Washer (4219) : a top-performing washer. It also advertises a Cold Clean™ cycle, that uses cold water "as effectively as warm-water cycles," and a Sanitize option that eliminates 99.9% of certain bacteria without chemicals like bleach. $1385.49.
5. Xeros washer: currently in development by a British scientist, it's designed to use 90% less water than conventional washers. Instead of water, the machine reuses tiny polymer beads to clean clothes.
6. Hand Powered Portable Washing Machine: For those of us in rented apartments who won't be buying laundry machines anytime soon, this is another eco-friendly option. It can wash five pounds of clothes in just a couple of minutes, with no electricity used at all. $49.99.