The Ins & Outs of High Efficiency Washers

If you are thinking about purchasing a new washer, you may be considering a high-efficiency washer. The bright HE label looks nice, but what does it mean? High efficiency washers are designed to use less water and dry clothes in the washer. These restraints on the design mean that high efficiency washers don't have agitators, the posts in the center of older top-loading washing machines. Instead, high efficiency washers spin the whole load, which dries out the clothes prior to moving them to dryer. The design also uses less water. A high efficiency washer is a good choice to reduce water and electricity bills, but it does require some adjustments. 

Many high efficiency washers are front-loaders. These washers look more like a dryer, where the clothes are loaded horizontally instead of vertically. This set-up can be annoying for some homeowners because it requires bending down to load clothes. To address this issue, some manufacturers sell stands that elevate the washer to a more comfortable level. However, these can be expensive. For those that prefer the standard top loader, there are a few high efficiency options. 

High efficiency washers require less detergent. Adding less detergent can be one of the biggest adjustments to make because more suds seems better for cleaning. However, high efficiency washers use less water. The tumbling of the washer also tends to generate more suds. With less water and more suds by design, it's easy to add too much detergent. One alternative is to purchase high efficiency detergents, which provide the right amount of suds for a high efficiency washing machine. 

Another adjustment is the longer wash times of the high efficiency washer. Front loaders can take up to 100 minutes to complete a single load. It makes sense. Using less water means that it takes time to get the suds out of the clothes. Manufacturers are aware of this and have made some alternatives available. First, they have increased the capacity of front loaders. If the capacity allows two loads at once, who cares if it takes twice as long? Second, some manufacturers have added a speed wash capability. This type of wash (like heavy or sport) adjusts the settings so that the clothes are cleaner up to 20 minutes sooner. 

Homeowners purchasing a high efficiency washer will also have to be aware of waterproof clothing. Most high efficiency washers cannot handle waterproof clothing because the spinning cycle could be become unbalanced. The spinning mechanism relies on sending water out toward the edges of the washer. A waterproof jacket would become a water shield, making one side heavier. To address this issue, some manufacturers have a setting specifically for waterproof clothing. This setting slows the speed of the spinning so unbalancing is less likely. 

Most homeowners appreciate the benefits of a high efficiency washer, but many are unaware of the adjustments that need to be made. The household laundry process changes with longer wash times and less detergent required. However, many people can incorporate a high efficiency washer into their household if they are prepared to adjust. 

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