The £ savvy way to buy a washing machine
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This article aims to help you understand how much energy it will actually cost to run a washing machine when you are buying to help you make comparisons and decisions.
For 25 years, kitchen appliances were rated using an A to G energy labelling scale to help you choose the most economical products to buy.
BUT, the system doesn't tell you the difference in actual running costs. How do you know how much you will save by going for an A rated washing machine compared to a D rated washing machine for example?
I'll show you in this article how to calculate the actual energy costs using the manufacturers published energy consumption figures for a given product. This is always written as the number of kWh on product literature and on energy labels in showrooms.
Using this method will give you much more useful purchasing information than using the simple A-G scale.
The energy scale system changed significantly in March 2021. Unfortunately, this means there is still a very confusing mix of old and new style information out there. I hope in this article to give you a clear explanation of what you see and what it means.
I'll show you some real-world examples of running costs for different machines currently for sale at the end of this article.
How to work out what an appliance will cost you to run
It's important to mention for information, that the labelling system was completely changed in March 2021 so don't be alarmed if you only see products that are showing energy efficiencies E or F!
The energy consumption information for washing machines is currently shown in three ways depending on where you look when you are buying...they've not made it very easy for us sadly! The next three sections explain how to do running cost calculations for each of them.
1) Washing machine product labels in showrooms (and sometimes online)
On product labels in showrooms like the one here, the figure is often shown next to the symbol with 100 next to it with the circular arrow around it. This means in this case that this washing machine uses 75 kWh of energy for 100 wash loads at 60C. So, 75 kWh is the annual energy consumption if you use the machine roughly twice a week at this temperature.
So, if your tariff for electricity is the current standard capped tariff of 34p per kWh the cost of energy works out at 75 x 0.34 = around £25.50.
This is the figure for 100 washes. So to get the 'per wash' figure divide this figure by 100:
So, £25.50/100 = £0.255 (so almost 26p per wash)
If you think you would do more wash loads than twice a week, say every day of the year, then it would cost:
25.5p x 365 = around 9,308 pence (so around £93 for a year).
2) Washing machine product information found online
SOME online sellers just show "energy use per individual wash cycle" in kWh. An example here of one:
In this case to calculate the energy cost for a wash load multiply this figure by your energy tariff.
0.568 x 34p = 19.3p
If you think you will use the washing machine every day of the year the total cost for the year would be
£0.193 x 365 = £70.45
3) An alternative washing machine product information found online
SOME online sellers just show "energy use per year". In this case it is not clear what this means, and how many washes this would be for. I recommend contacting the seller and asking them! Not helpful!
Washing machine costs on unusual energy tariffs
Economy 7. The above costs will be around 20% higher if you use a washing machine during the hours of the daytime tariff if you have a dual rate Economy 7 type tariff, and around 50% lower if you use the washing machine during the hours of the night-time rate.
Other flexible tariffs. Increasingly, there are other tariffs which have different energy costs for different times of day, such as for homes with electric cars, heat pumps, and to help the energy grid. Tariffs like these would allow you to run your machine when the energy is cheaper, although the energy at other times will be more expensive. If you think you might switch to tariffs like these in the future then it will be important to choose a machine that includes a timer to control the start time of the machine. Some machines may even have smart features that will automatically run when the energy cost is cheapest. These tend to be more expensive machines though.
For info also, machine owner's manuals usually have information on the typical costs for different machine programmes so you can see which programmes use least energy and water.
If you need any specific guidance on working out any of the above, do drop me a line through the web site and I'll see if I can give you some pointers.
Costs of water
If you are on a water meter the cost of water is worth taking into account. Washing machines use a lot of water. The average is around 50 litres per cycle. Based on a typical water cost of £3 for 1000 litres of water that means a washing machine uses about 15p of water every wash load.
The reason I mention this is that some washing machines claim they use less than 50 litres (such as 35 litres). They will probably have special programmes that do this. These programmes will reduce the cost of water to around 10p.
So, if you are on a water meter and are a heavy user of washing machines you might want to consider the costs of water consumption when you are choosing.
Real showroom comparisons and examples
Here are some simple examples of the variety of energy use by dishwashers currently on sale (Oct 22) in my local Curry's showroom.
In this example you can see two washing machines that are the same price but have different kWh figures and different running costs. The good news is that washing machines are actually pretty cheap products to use so the differences are small.
The photo below was of the most energy efficient washing machine I could find on my visit. As you can see the cost for 100 washes is only £14.28. Again, if you always wash at 60C add about £11 to this figure.
The price of this machine is £100 more than the other two above. If you compare that with the most energy efficient machine above at £19.38, it will take many years for that £100 extra investment to payback.
There may be lots of other reasons why you might want the more expensive machine of course.
I find a web site www.productz.com also very useful for researching the energy use of any type of domestic appliance.
The geeky area
The story about the labelling changes and reason for this blog
The energy labelling on kitchen appliances has been around for 25 years with a scale going from A to G to indicate how energy efficient a product is.
We have become use to most products being at least A rated, or over the years A+, A++ and even A+++ as manufacturers have made products that are more and more efficient. When the scale was originally invented the industry didn't realise that A was not going to be high enough.
In March 2021 the scale was drastically revised for many product types including kitchen appliances. Depending on the type of appliance what might have been an A++ appliance before might now be an D, E, or even F on the new scale. The reason for this is to give a new challenge on the manufacturers to further improve energy efficiency and move UP the new scale.
This is why you shouldn't be alarmed that most products are only E or F rated these days. Products haven't got worse!
The problem has always been though, how does a consumer calculate how much energy two similar products use, and what will that difference actually make to annual bills? If a consumer sees a D rated product next to an E rated product it is not clear how much money will be saved on using the D.
This is an example of text from one website advert for a dishwasher :
'E energy rating means it may not be the most efficient, but it still won’t add too much to your monthly utility bills'
I don't think that is very helpful!
A lot of the information online is also very confusing. This screenshot is for a freezer but similar information for washing machines is also very confusing. It shows all sorts of energy performance ratings without any explanation.
Thankfully the one important thing that all these products show as you can see at the bottom is a kWh figure.
The kWh figure should by law be displayed on the energy label on all appliances in showrooms. For online buying, the kWh is sometimes buried in the 'more details' or 'full specification' section for a product and will need digging out with Google.
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