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Do front-load washers save you money?

Are front-loaders really worth the money?
Are front-loaders really worth the money?

Front-load washing machines use less water and energy than standard top-load washers. Whether or not buying one will save you money over the long haul might come down to how much you pay for water and electricity, where you live and how well you treat your appliances. One glitch in the rosy picture of endless savings using a front-load washing machine is the high purchase price of these units. Depending on the manufacturer and features you select, front-load washing machines can be more than twice as expensive as conventional top-loaders. Front-load washers can be complicated, too. If something does go wrong, they're a little like a new car. They have complex equipment onboard to make them intuitive and convenient to use, but that level of complexity also makes problems more expensive to diagnose and repair. If you're used to taking a DIY approach to appliance maintenance, this could be a deal breaker all by itself [source: Verwymeren].

Before you start reeling from sticker shock, let's take a look at what you get for your money with a front-load washer. Front-load washing machines use less than half the water and electricity of standard top loaders. There's more: Around 90 percent of the cost of running a washing machine, as opposed to just powering it, is spent heating the water. When you use less water, you save on your water bill and cut your energy costs at the same time. Conventional top-load washers also have slower spin cycles than front-load machines. They can leave a gallon to two gallons of water in a load of laundry. If you don't line dry your clothes, that water has to be extracted in the dryer, which means a longer drying cycle (more energy waste) and more wear and tear on the dryer, too.

Front-load washers also outperform top-load washing machines, and even high-efficiency top-loaders, in most independent test categories. They're gentler on clothes, clean clothes more thoroughly and even tend to get stains out more effectively. That means you may end up wearing that dress shirt a couple of months longer, or actually save a few stained garments from the rag bag [source: Consumer Reports].