This Washing Machine Will Save You Money Every Time You Do Laundry

published Dec 22, 2023
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Woman hands put laundry into the white washing machine. She standing inside bright apartment with light interior
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Whenever your monthly water bill creeps higher and higher, you look at where you can cut down. Perhaps you’ll do fewer loads of laundry. But will that help? Before you rewear your favorite sweatshirt for the fourth time in a row, it’s good to know exactly how much water your washing machine uses.

Quick Overview

How Much Water Does a Washing Machine Use?

You might think that bigger washing machines use more water — and you’d be right, kinda. However, one of the most crucial factors affecting water use is the type of washer, whether it’s a front-loader or a top-loader. An Energy Star-certified front-load washer uses about 50% less water than a top-load agitator washer and 25% less water than a top-load impeller washer. (Most new top-loaders use an impeller, which is a smaller version of the old-school agitator.)

Generally, the EPA says that as of September 2023, “a full-sized Energy Star-certified clothes washer uses 13 gallons of water per load.” For a more detailed breakdown, Energy Star provides water-use specs on hundreds of washing machines. Energy Star is a program run by the EPA and U.S. Department of Energy to promote energy efficiency, and it’s a great resource for learning more about your washing machine. (Surprisingly, there’s not much detailed information about water use on a washing machine’s manufacturer’s website.) 

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Energy Star’s calculations are based on washing 295 loads of laundry per year, which is just under six loads per week. For an example comparison, I looked at a Samsung 5-cubic-foot front-load washer versus a Samsung 5-cubic-foot top-load washer. According to Energy Star, the 5-cubic-foot front-load Samsung washer uses 4,235 gallons of water per year; divided by 295 loads per year, that’s 14.4 gallons of water per load. Meanwhile, using the same calculations, a 5-cubic-foot top-load Samsung washer uses 6,292 gallons of water per year, or 21.3 gallons of water per load. 

The front-load Samsung washer I referenced is an “Energy Star Most Efficient” appliance, a designation given to “the most efficient” products that qualify for an Energy Star. It’s worth noting that none of the top-load washers certified by Energy Star are considered “Energy Star Most Efficient.”

You can look for your own washer on the Energy Star-certified washer list to get the most accurate estimate of how much water you use while doing laundry throughout the year. And if you run your washer more or less often than 295 times per year, you can multiply the gallons per load calculation by how often you wash clothes to get a more accurate personal annual water usage. 

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When you don’t want to revisit algebra class, you can also quickly look at your washer’s Energy Star Integrated Water Factor (IWF) rating, which measures “gallons of water consumed per cubic foot of capacity.” The lower the number, the more water-efficient your machine is. For example, the front-load Samsung washer mentioned in this article has a 2.9 IWF, while the top-load Samsung machine has a 4.3.

Of course, how much water your washing machine uses depends on the brand and how old it is. Generally, older machines use more water, and more technologically advanced appliances use less water for a load of laundry. But if you’re concerned with how much water you use, look for an Energy Star label. Energy Star-certified clothes washers use about 30% less water than regular washers, according to the program.