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Washing machines: the new water savers?


Washing machines account for 20% of an average household’s water use in California, but that may change now that the California Energy Commission has prevailed in a years-long lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Energy, which had prevented the commission from adopting a more water- and energy-efficient standard for clothes washers.

Currently, there is no standard for how much water a washing machine uses. It’s estimated that the average washing machine uses 39.2 gallons of water per wash, or 15,366 gallons a year for a normal household.

If California’s proposed standard goes into effect, an average machine would use just 6 gallons of water per cubic foot of washing machine capacity; the average washing machine would use just 21.1 gallons per wash, or 8,271 gallons per year.

On Wednesday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ordered the U.S. energy department to reconsider California’s request to set its own washing machine standard. While the U.S. energy department has not agreed to the state’s request, it could be granted next year, with the new standard going in to effect some time in 2013.

Jonathan Blees, assistant chief counsel for the California Energy Commission, said the standard does not require consumers to upgrade their machines; it merely requires manufacturers to apply the standard to all California washing machines that are made after the standard goes in to effect.

Blees said many washing-machine models, most of them front-loading, currently meet the 6-gallon standard.

Blees estimates that within the first year of the new standard, the state would save 4.76 billion gallons of water. Within 12 to 15 years, a time frame during which most Californians will have switched their existing machines to the more efficient standard, the state could save as much as 66.7 billion gallons of water – enough water to supply a city the size of San Diego every year. The new standard would also save the state 500 gigawatt hours of electricity and 50 million therms of natural gas -- energy that is used to pump water in to the home for washing machines and treat the water after it's been used.

-- Susan Carpenter

Photo: Whirlpool

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energy and water saving means money saving, which is a good idea for the new machines now.

Love to browse your blog...always learn something new

Water Softener Reviews

39.2 gallons of water per wash that's a lot of water. if the washing machine really does take about 20% of the waster in a household we should consider using modern washers I guess.
I know that front loaders consume less water.

lovely post regarding washing machine?Awesome.Really in today's busy life its a good way to save water.But there must be a defined water usage standard for every machine.That would quiet helpful in this cause.

one way to save water on the washer is use the waterless washing machine from xeros - it was featured on the guardian newspaper and apparently uses 90% less water than normal washers. Not only good for environment but also water bill - don't know how good it is at actually cleaning having never used it but sure would like to know other opinion

We can learn from and benefit by replicating a directive that was implemented in Europe - the 'EU Energy Rating label' is a requirement that appliance manufacturers conduct an energy efficiency test on their products and display the energy rating label, such as "A" for most efficient energy use and progressively degrading to grade "G" for least efficient - see this washing machine guide for additional info and energy efficiency basics.

This can provide an incentive for consumers to look for the most energy efficient products when buying new appliances, since energy efficient appliances use less energy, which helps the environment, but most notably for the consumer, results in reduced running costs, making it cheaper over the long term. This in turn could help push manufacturers to make their devices more energy efficient, if they know the customer base is aware of and actively looking for "A" rated appliances.

We can actually conserve energy and water even without using the most efficiency washing machine. Pre-treating clothes instead of using the hot water temperature cycle to remove stains saves you a lot of energy. Also refrain from using a lot of detergent for your front load washer. Not only can too much detergent permanently damage the functions of your washer, it also eliminates the need to use the extra rinse cycle.

i love this post. yes, washing machine today save us much on water. and made us to be more effective in using our energy.

yes before its an issue of washing machines that consumes a lot of galoons but now, there are new technology in line with government to help save water. top manufactures and brand have its now their products a new features and innovation to lessen the use of water...

i love your washing machine because its comfortable for me.

Every little bit helps! If you can afford this option, it is a must!

I thought that it was interesting that "Within 12 to 15 years, a time frame during which most Californians will have switched their existing machines to the more efficient standard, the state could save as much as 66.7 billion gallons of water – enough water to supply a city the size of San Diego every year. I

I am also working to decrease unnecessary energy utilization amongst residential consumers. My goal is to make more people think more oftenincrease awareness about how they individuals can save energy - andby then go ahead and actually change their behavior andcreating an environment and culture of saving based on core human instincts – competition and community start saving.

Check our blog out:

I would rather save myself from allergy than save water. I have one of these ultra-efficient (as of 5 years ago) front loaders, and I have to pour some water over the load to make it heavier and trick the sensor into putting more water in. Otherwise, the laundry really REEKS of the detergent. (And, yes, I know the correct detergent type and dose for this machine). Until I came up with this trick, I had to run the cycle twice - once with the detergent and the second time with only some water softener. Wait till the kids who were born around 2005 (when the new efficiency rules became popular) are in their teens. California will be known as the AA Land (for Acne & Asthma).

We just bought an Energy Star top-loader after having way too many problems with our front-loader. Do any research on the web and you'll see why we avoided them like the plague. Our new Whirlpool uses less water and energy than most top-loaders, is very large capacity, and only cost $400. There's no need to buy a pricey, moldy, albeit chic looking front-loader to be green.

Great! All consumers have to do is pay double to 3 times the price for an energy-saving washer.

Save enough water to supply a city like San Diego? Good! Now, how is the water going to get there to them?

Originally from California, I have lived in Ireland for the last 35 years, so have been using European appliances. It has always bothered me that the capacity in the European washers is so low; on the other hand my clothes are cleaner. Now I see that the water consumption in my washer is even less than the target from the California Energy Commission! Wonderful for me, and my 10 year old machine. Part of the advantage, of course, is lower capacity, but the European Union has ensured that energy and water consumption levels have come down for all appliances and
because all appliances have a recognised ecological rating, we can make up our own minds. Good job - hope it works for you too.

One recommendation I suggest is have less clothes. Also a smaller front loading washing machine uses less water.

Also encourage good grey water set ups so the rinse water is stored outside for use in watering flower beds and trees.

And also make machines so the spin cycle actually removes as much water as possible so when they are dried in a dryer they dry faster and thus use less electricity.


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