19th March 2019
When it comes to looking for a new washing machine, we are inundated with an overwhelming number of choices, features and models. From drum size to spin speeds, we tackle some of the common questions we get asked to make choosing a new washing machine that little bit easier.
The drum size of a washing machine is often the first thing we know we want when it comes to looking for a new one. However, there seems to be a growing impression that a large drum size will give better cleaning performance and value. But, there are some disparities between the drum size declared and what can be loaded into the machine.
Something we're often responsible for as consumers are taking what we're told about washing machines as the truth and nothing but. But is this where we're going wrong?
The drum size of a washing machine refers to the weight of clothes that can fit into the drum in kilograms. So with this in mind, 7kg worth of clothes will fit into a 7kg machine, right?
Well, not quite.
The drum size of a washing machine is measured by the weight of dry clothes that can fit into the machine, which are perfectly folded and strategically placed into the machine to give us the kilogram drum size measurement we see when we go to buy a washing machine.
In everyday life, we rarely have the time to fold and place our dirty clothes into our washing machine to ensure that 7kg worth of clothes fit into our 7kg machine. And even if we did, the wash performance will decrease and often result in out of balance problems because a load should never be more than 80 per cent full. Therefore, the drum size of a washing machine is more of a guide than a matter of fact.
Despite being able to select a washing machine up to 12kg in drum size, as a machine runs most efficient when full, it’s a good idea to get a washing machine we will not struggle to fill, so there is no water and energy unnecessarily wasted.
Sure, a large drum size has its advantages, the main one being we can wash more clothes at once compared to a small drum size; unfortunately, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. A washing machine with a large drum size is often more expensive because of this reason and if like we spoke about earlier, is a struggle to fill, will be cost more to run because they need more water and energy each cycle.
In most cases, a 7kg to 9kg drum size will be more than sufficient for a medium-sized household in the UK and will have enough space for standard washes and include programmes tailored for smaller loads too. But, when choosing a washing machine based on drum size, it's key to remember washing habits and needs and never to cram clothes into the machine because they work best when filled to each programme set limit.
The washing machine, in the powered version that we know it, has existed since 1908 and is one of the leading home appliances we couldn’t imagine life without. With 97% of homes across the UK owning a machine, we expect them to last a long time but is this a notion we have become ignorant to because the fact is, all washing machines are not made and used the same.
There is no set amount of time that a washing machine should last; it’s more dependent on the level of use it’s subject to.
According to statistics, the "normal domestic use" of a washing machine is around 270 washes per home. UK White Goods said that this meant, at best, the "normal average use" of a washing machine per person is around 117 washes.
If we put this into the perspective of the average UK family of two adults and two children, the use will almost double to 468 washes per home, per annum!
As a result, the average UK family will use a washing machine virtually twice the average rate which, means some failure would be expected sooner because as the number of washes increase the lifespan decreases.
It, therefore, pays to bear in mind how often the machine is going to be used, the load size of each wash and whether the machine is fit for purpose.
According to consumer research, WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme) found that we expect a washing machine to last a minimum of six years before it needs to be replaced. Whereas How Stuff Works said a new washing machine should last an average of eleven years but recommends replacing a washing machine that's more than eight years old regardless.
In an ideal world, a washing machine should last anywhere between six to eleven years, but don't be disappointed if it breaks before then, it could just mean that the machine was not fit for purpose and exceeded the "normal average use".
In danger of using up the planet's natural resources, polluting the air we need to breathe and destroying vital habitats, how we consume energy has grown incredibly fast over the last couple of decades so it pays to understand what we can do in the home to manage and limit such growth.
First introduced in 1979, this label was the first "modern" piece of legislation in the EU to establish a standard energy efficiency labelling scheme on household products and appliances.
With the EU aiming for a 20 per cent cut in Europe’s annual energy consumption by 2020, energy efficiency ratings are vital in boosting the efficiency of our homes.
Since its introduction, the energy consumption labelling scheme has seen great success with over 70 countries recognising the label, allowing 500 million people to make informed choices when buying a product.
We as consumers are ultimately at the centre of these considerations, only a rating which can be easily understood, give accurate and reliable information, and financial benefits will succeed in the efficiency of products and appliances to rise.
In December 2011, the minimum standard rating for a new washing machine was an "A" rated machine, and from December 2013 "A+" or better, were introduced to the market.
Although lower rated machines could still be bought, the purpose of the ratings was and still is, to make a machines' efficiency more transparent when it comes to buying one.
Alongside this rating annual water consumption, capacity, spin-drying efficiency and noise emission will also be displayed, which is useful for those of us struggling to choose between models.
Evidence from a 2013 Mintel report suggested that people are becoming increasingly aware that looking for a machine with the best energy efficiency rating can save them money on utility bills.
What's not to love about that?
The energy efficiency of a washing machine is calculated by measuring the average amount of energy that particular model used based on cycles run at 60⁰C with a full cotton load, then again at 40⁰C with a partial cotton load.
These ratings take into account: airborne acoustic noise emissions, energy consumption, ‘left-on mode’ duration, maximum spin speed, power consumption in ‘off-mode’, power consumption in ‘left-on mode’, programme time, remaining moisture content and water consumption.
Dual Fill washing machines have all but disappeared in the UK, making Ebac's Hot and Cold Fill washing machines one of a kind. Promises behind Dual Fill washing machines are meant to be cheaper running costs and reduced wash times, but is this true?
All we have to do is go online and search for information on Dual Fill washing machines before we’re bombarded with all kinds of information not all of us will understand about hot and cold fill washing machines.
Are hot-fill washing machines a waste of time? Can hot-fill washing machines be a greener option? Is hot or cold fill better?
You get the picture.
In its simplest terms, heating water in a washing machine accounts for up to 10 per cent of a household’s electric bill. That’s £30-£50 on an average £500 annual bill. To put this into perspective, when it comes to a cold fill washing machines when the wash temperature is reduced to 30°C, a lot of time and energy is required to heat water from the mains temperature which is around 8°C.
A Dual Fill washing machine will give an “intelligent” mixed fill, which means the machine will use existing hot water and balance it out with colder water dependent on the temperature and wash selected.
According to The Solar Trade Association, the UK has now reached its 1 million solar homes milestone - both Solar PV and Solar Thermal - making solar hot water the most popular of all the micro-technologies available to British homeowners. This means there are a growing number of people generating gallons of hot water that sit in our homes waiting to be used. Dual Fill washing machines are designed to handle this hot water.
Whether from a solar, preheated tank or other renewable hot water sources, these washing machines are up to four times cheaper to heat than it is to use electric according to uSwitch, perfect for those who are looking to save time, money and energy by not having to heat water within the machine.
Please note that Dual Fill washing machines, unfortunately, won’t be suitable for everyone and will best live up to their promises if you have a greener supply of hot water. These supplies include; combi boilers, heat pumps, hot water cylinder, preheated tanks, solar energy systems and solid fuel systems.
If this sounds like something you’re interested in and hoping to install when the time is right, don’t panic, Dual Fill washing machines can also be used as a regular cold fill washing machine too.
The spin speed of a washing machine refers to the rate at which the drum rotates during a wash. Measured in revolutions per minute (rpm), a setting of 1200rpm means the drum will spin 1200 times a minute. These spin speeds range from 800rpm to 1800rpm. So, how valuable are faster spin speeds? Is there an optimum spin speed? Or is it just the quicker, the better?
Back in the 70’s the fastest spin speed available was 1000rpm so to think today it’s not uncommon to see spin speeds up to 1800rpm, it’s important not to be fooled into thinking that higher spin speeds mean faster, cleaner washing because this isn’t necessarily the case.
Without getting into the technicalities, the main advantage of having a washing machine with a higher rpm is that at the end of the wash, the clothes will be drier.
According to independent tests, the amount of water removed from various spin speeds revealed that a towel spun at 800rpm felt damp and wet, and the same towel spun at 1000rpm felt the virtually identical – although seemingly less cold – whereas when the towel spun at 1400rpm was almost completely dry. So if we take note of this notion, the faster the spin speed, the more water is wrung out of our clothes, and the quicker they will dry, great for those of us with a tumble dryer as a faster spin speed means the dryer has less work to do, consequently saving energy and money.
However, machines with fast spin speeds tend to be more expensive, and as the machine spins harder and faster, the noise level goes up, as does the vibration and should be a serious consideration.
But not just that, the bearings in the machine are also under more strain the faster the drum spins and therefore tend to wear out quicker.