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How Much Water Does a Front Loading Washing Machine Use?

The green movement has spawned much enthusiasm about energy-saving appliances, and when it comes to front-loading washing machines, the hype may be well founded. Front-loading machines are more energy efficient than their traditional counterparts. In addition to saving energy, however, front loaders also reduce water usage by up to 40 percent compared to top-loading machines, according to the California Energy Commission.

Design

Front-loading machines save at least 12 gallons per load.
The horizontal design allows front loaders to clean with less water.

In contrast to a traditional top-loading washing machine, which requires a full tub of water and an agitator to clean clothes, front-loading machines spin clothes vertically, like in a dryer.  Clothes constantly circle through the soapy water in the bottom of the drum; thus, the entire tub does not need to be full of water in order to wash all of the clothes.

Water Factor Rating

Energy Star machines have a water factor of six or lower.

Although all front-loading washing machines are more efficient than top loaders, the specific amount of water used depends on the model you're using.  Energy Star uses a formula referred to as the water factor to compare different machines. To find the water factor, divide the capacity of the machine by the amount of water used.  For example, a machine with a capacity of 30 cubic feet that uses 30 gallons of water per cycle would have a water factor of 10. Look for the lowest water factor when you are shopping for machines. 

Cost Savings

According to The Alliance for Water Efficiency, the average family of four will use 12,000 gallons of water per year using a top-loading machine.  By switching to a more efficient front loader, you could conserve as much as 6,000 gallons of water a year. This saves you money on your water bill as well as on the energy needed to heat the water. 

Considerations

Consider your family's needs to find the best machine for you.

Of course, your front loader's water efficiency ultimately relies on the choices you make.  Before purchasing your new machine, consider your family's needs and buy a washer with an appropriate tub size. For large families, buying a machine with a larger tub size will be more efficient, but for a one- or two-person household, it is more economical to buy a machine with a smaller tub Also, be sure to wash your clothes only when you have a full load of laundry.  Washing several small loads instead of one large load wastes water. This does not mean you should overload your machine, though; when clothes are crammed into the tub too tightly to move freely, they don't get as clean. 

About the Author

Jennifer Loomis is a certified English/language arts teacher and is a writer of teaching and literature materials. She also specializes in writing home and garden articles. Loomis holds a B.A. in philosophy from Mount Mary College, a secondary English teaching certification from the University of Wisconsin Green Bay and a master's degree in English from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.

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