The other day when I visited my aunt’s new home, we were talking about the marvels of home appliances. How they silently take care of chores that would otherwise have been a burden for a homemaker.
One such appliance is a washing machine. Have you ever thought about how much time it saves and how it makes our life much easier? But, like everything else in life, it comes at a cost. And that is the energy it consumes.
The power consumption of a washing machine depends to a great extent on its format- whether it is a semi-automatic, fully-automatic top-loader or a front loader.
Semi-automatic and fully-automatic top loaders consume lesser energy, but more water, compared to front loaders. But there are other factors too that affect power consumption.
Let us take a look at them, understand how to decode the BEE labelling and also throw light on other aspects to help you understand more about how washing machines consume energy.
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Factors That Affect Power Consumption of A Washing Machine
As mentioned earlier, front load washing machines consume more energy than top loaders. The main reason behind this is the heating element, which is a major power gulper.
If you take a look at the power consumed by a front loader when it washes a full load in 30 degrees Celsius and 90 degrees Celsius, you will find that the latter consumes about 1026% higher energy. This is affected not just by the temperature, but also the wash duration. You will notice that wash programs at lower temperatures are shorter, while at a higher temperature, they are more intense, elaborate and time-consuming.
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Spin speed is another factor that affects power consumption. Obviously higher the speed, the higher the energy consumption.
You will notice that fully automatic top loaders generally have a maximum spin speed of around 800 RPM, while front load washing machines have 1000-1400 RPM. This contributes as one of the factors that increase the energy consumption of a front loader.
So, if it is summertime and you are not in a hurry to dry your clothes, you can reduce the RPM of your front loader to bring down the energy consumption.
Front-load washing machines have wash programs that last from 15 minutes to around 3 hours. Top load washing machines have a shorter wash duration of less than an hour in most cases. This too affects the power consumption.
Bosch comes with speed perfect, an option using which you can reduce the duration of wash by up to half.
Choosing the synthetics wash program without speed perfect, the washing machine consumes about 0.24 units, while with speed perfect, it consumes 0.20 units. Similarly, washing a mix load without speed perfect takes 0.16 units, while with speed perfect, it consumes 0.14 units. Thus, it takes lesser energy when you use the speed perfect option.
Power Consumption of Top Load Vs Front Load Washing Machine
As you can deduce considering the above factors, a front load washing machine consumes more electricity due to all the above factors.
When you compare automatic and semi-automatic top loaders, their energy consumption falls around the same range. Certain factors work in favour of an automatic top loader, while certain factors work against it.
Wash duration and temperature works in favour of semi-automatic washing machines as they don’t have heaters and most of them finish washing in 30 minutes or less. Fully automatic top-loaders on the other hand has a lower RPM. Most of them don’t have an in-built heater either.
But, if you use a top loader with an in-built heater, it will consume more energy compared to a front loader because it has to heat up double the quantity of water. While a front loader consumes about 8-10 litre water per Kg load, top loaders consume about 15-20 litres per Kg of load.
To help you get an idea of the specific numbers, we are citing an example below of LG’s 6.5 Kg washing machine in various formats. These values are when clothes are washed for 30 minutes in 27-degree Celsius water.
|Format||Power Consumption For A Full Load|
|Fully Automatic Top Load||.07 units|
|Front Load||0.53 units|
The above values have been calculated by taking the energy consumption figure from BEE labels. But, note that a front load washing machine consumes as much as 2.5 units of electricity when the wash temperature is raised to 90 degrees Celsius.
This brings us to the next question.
Which Washing Machine Brand Is The Most Energy Efficient?
We are considering the major player- LG, Samsung, IFB, Bosch and Whirlpool in various formats to find out which of them has the best energy efficiency as per the BEE rating. The below figures are in units consumed for a 6.5 Kg load without heater.
|Brand/Format||Semi-Automatic||Fully Automatic Top Load||Front Load|
|LG||.09 units||.07 units||.53 units|
|Samsung||.085 units||.1 units||.58 units|
|IFB||–||.08 units||.57 units|
|Bosch||–||.08 units||.45 units|
|Whirlpool||.08 units||.07 units||–|
As you can see, the difference between various brands is so negligible to be factored in when buying a washing machine. It would be wiser to consider other factors like wash programs and performance.
Note- Front-loaders consume 2-2.5 units of electricity per load when washing is done in 90-degree hot water and about 1-1.75 units when washing in 60-degree hot water.
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Reading BEE Labels
As of now, BEE ( Bureau of Energy Efficiency) labelling is not mandatory for washing machines. Even so, most of the top brands have opted in and have their products certified and labelled.
The main figure you will notice is the energy consumption in units per Kg per cycle. But take this figure with not a pinch, but a load of salt, especially when considering the energy consumption of a front loader that comes with an in-built heater.
Under the BEE testing parameters, water temperature is set at 27 degrees Celsius plus or minus 1 degree and the wash duration is set at 30-35 minutes for a top loader and as per program selection for front loaders. But in the real world, most users set the temperature at 40-60 degrees Celsius when washing in a front loader. So, this would drastically affect electricity consumption.
Yet another important aspect you can figure out from the BEE label is the water consumption, which again is mentioned per kg of load. Multiply it with the capacity of the washing machine to get a proper understanding of how much water it would actually use for a full load.
Tips To Reduce Energy Consumption of Washing Machine
If you have read up till now, you may be tempted to opt for a top load washing machine thinking about its low energy consumption. But, we wouldn’t really recommend it. It is true that top loaders cost almost half that of a front loader. But, when you compare the convenience, wash quality, performance, durability and versatile wash programs available, a front loader is really worth the money spent.
No matter which type of washing machine you have, here are some tips to help you reduce energy consumption.
- You would have clearly understood that temperature plays the most important role in determining the power consumption of a washing machine. So, wash clothes in appropriate temperature. Use hot water only for bed and bath linen. For regular wears, normal temperature water is usually enough.
- During summers and when you are not in a hurry to dry the clothes, set the spin speed lower to reduce the energy consumption.
- Some washing machines have sensors to detect the load and adjust the duration and water consumption. But even so, it is better to wash in full loads to minimize the overall water and energy consumption.
- Using right quantity of washing powder is necessary not only for proper wash performance, but also to reduce water consumption. Washing machines like IFB have foam control features that gets activated when excess foam is detected. In such cases, the washing machine adds another rinse cycle to remove the foam. This translates to longer wash duration and hence higher power consumption.
- If you are at home, avoid using time delay function as the washing machine remains switched on throughout the delay period, hence increasing the energy consumption.
- Dryers are immensely helpful in monsoon and winters. But, if you have the luxury of air-drying in the sun, opt for it. Not only does it reduce energy consumption, but it is actually beneficial for your health as the UV rays sanitizes your clothes.
- We used to have a washing machine that was almost 20 years old and still worked fine. But, when we replaced it, there was a dramatical decrease in the energy consumption. So, if your washing machine is too old and if you can afford, replace it with a newer, energy efficient model.
- If you have a solar geyser, you could connect it to the washing machine to reduce the use of in-built heater.