What to Look For: Choosing a Compact Washer/Dryer

Buying a washer and dryer doesn't have to be complicated. Here are five things to think about when you are choosing a washer and dryer and six links to get you started.

  1. Gas or electric?
    Where you live, how much you pay for utilities and if you already have a gas line installed in your home will help you decide if a gas or electric dryer is best for you. Where I live, electricity costs about twice as much as natural gas for the same amount of delivered energy. I am also unable to purchase electricity that is produced with renewable methods like wind or solar. As a result, all of the electricity here is from coal fired plants. According to the US EPA coal produced electricity emits four times the amount of carbon into the atmosphere as natural gas. New gas lines can be expensive to install and you probably already have a hook up for an electric dryer. If you already have a gas line, if gas is cheaper and if it is important to you that natural gas has a lower carbon footprint than coal fired electricity, then choosing a gas dryer will probably serve you better in the end.
  2. How much laundry do you do?
    If you are choosing a compact washer and dryer then you are probably already pressed for space in your home. How many loads of wash will you need to do to meet your needs? Will you regularly wash large items like bedding? If you have small laundry needs then the compact washer/dryer (3 cubic feet capacity) will suit you well. If you are washing for more than three people, or if you want to reduce dry time you may need to consider an over sized dryer (7 cubic feet capacity).
  3. Moisture sensor
    Chose a dryer with a moisture sensor because it will save energy by optimizing drying time. The less time your dryer runs, the less energy it will use.
  4. High efficiency washer or top loading washer
    Is a high efficiency, front loading washer right for you? There are many advantages to a front loading washer. You will use less water, detergent and energy to run a load of clothes. You clothes will also be cleaner. The major downside is that they are more expensive than top loading models.
  5. Venting, utility hook ups and water
    Don't forget to purchase an appliance that will fit where you want it to fit in your home. Make sure your new appliance has enough room to connect a dryer vent, source water and waste water as well as the electric and/or gas hook up. If you live in an apartment and want to put this appliance in a closet make sure the closet door allows for enough air flow to enter the dryer. Try to use a bi-fold door, or leave the door ajar when the dryer is running to reduce drying time, save energy and allow the fan to work less. Remember, dryers blow a lot of air out of your home, that means they need to get a lot of air from your home.

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  • New HE Whirlpool Cabrio Washer and Dryer

  • Before You Buy a Dryer - Dryer Buying Tips - How to Buy a Dryer

  • How Clothes Dryers Work
  • (Image: LuckyPhoto/Shutterstock)

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