Running Cost of a Washing Machine – Start Washing in Cold Water!

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Following on from my previous posts about the cost of running various appliances. I have been looking at the cost of running a washing machine.

These are a little harder to work out than the cost of general usage. Your fridge and Freezer are on all the time, costs will vary depending on ambient temperatures and how often you open the doors etc.

With a washing machine, it obviously depends on the number of loads you do per day or week but also the settings used. When not in use, my washing machine uses a bit under 1w of electricity.

I also only have one washing machine, unlikely my two fridges.

After my overly expensive smart Samsung WW9000 washing machine broke down, I bought a much more affordable LG F4J6VY2W approximately 3 years ago.

All my calculations are based on the current variable rate of approximately 0.28p per kW.

Washing in Cold Water

Traditionally we have always been told to wash our clothes at 40-degrees. Most of the energy consumption figures provided on websites assume a ridiculous 60-degree wash.

While that advice may have been relevant 10+ years ago when the warmer water was required to activate the enzymes in the detergent that cleans our clothes and kills bacteria, however, it is no longer accurate today, depending on the detergent you use.

Back in 2003, Procter & Gamble had an evaluation on its energy footprint and based on the findings of this, they reformulated its detergents to make them more efficient when used with cold water. Tide Coldwater was introduced in 2005.

Of course, you will still want to wash some things at warmer temperatures, bed linin and underwear are obvious examples, and warmer temperatures can be good at keeping white cotton bright.

The true cost of running cost of a washing machine

My LG F4J6VY2W freestanding washing machine is now discontinued and therefore doesn’t have one of the new modern energy efficiency ratings. It was A+++, and it stated that the annual energy consumption was 160kWh.

At 160kWh, this would work out as £44.8 per year to run.

It looks like the official cycles figures are:

  • 60 °C cotton (Full Load) 0.84 kW
  • 60 °C cotton (Half Load) 0.65 kW
  • 40 °C cotton (Half Load) 0.65 kW

In comparison, the current cheapest 9KG machine they have is the and has an energy efficiency rating of B.

This is stated as using 58kwh per 100 cycles, with the official cycle figures being:

  • Eco 40-60 (Full Load): 1.011 kw
  • Eco 40-60 (Half Load):  0.500 kw
  • Eco 40-60 (Quarter Load): 0.242 kw

I used a quick wash for most of the tests because it took me less time. However, the length of the wash doesn’t appear to have as much effect as warming up of the water. You are probably better off sticking to one of the cooler but longer washing cycles (if that is an option on your machine).

  • Quick wash: 30 mins @ 30-degrees
    • Max draw is 2500w, and the total usage was 0.23kw
  • Quick wash – 30 mins @ Cold
    • 0.04kw usage
  • Cotton 40 degrees
    • 0.38kw usage

Energy Use based on official figures

My sample of one appliance isn’t great. Unlike fridges, not all washing machines state average energy consumption, depending on the site you use.

Curry’s and John Lewis list energy consumption per cycle. Curry’s don’t state what option is used, but I assume it is the same as John Lewis. John Lewis uses a ridiculous setting of the 60ºC cotton cycle. I guess the logic behind this is that it is the worst-case scenario.

AO.com states per year based on 220 washes, but if we divide by 220, the figure is still very high, so I assume they are also using a 60-degree wash.

I assume most people don’t use 60-degrees for most of their washes. Therefore, the below figures are not very accurate.

  • LOGIK L712WM20
    • Cheapest on Currys
    • Capacity: 7kg
    • Price: £209
    • Energy Rating: D
    • Water consumption per cycle: 45 litres
    • Energy consumption per cycle: 0.69 kWh
  • BEKO WTK82011W
    • Cheapest C rated
    • Capacity: 8kg
    • Price: £229
    • Energy Rating: C
    • Water consumption per cycle: 41 litres
    • Energy consumption per cycle: 0.62 kWh
  • LOGIK LIW714W20
    • Cheapest B rated
    • Capacity: 7kg
    • Price: £299
    • Energy Rating: B
    • Water consumption per cycle: 45 litres
    • Energy consumption per cycle: 0.52 kWh
  • HOOVER H-Wash 300 (H3W 68TME)
    • Same price as the Logik but larger capacity
    • Capacity: 8kg
    • Price: £299
    • Energy Rating: B
    • Water consumption per cycle: 44 litres
    • Energy consumption per cycle: 0.55 kWh

HOOVER H-WASH 300 H3WS68TAMCE

  • Cheapest A rated
    • Capacity: 8kg
    • Price: £329
    • Energy Rating: A
    • Water consumption per cycle: 44 litres
    • Energy consumption per cycle: 0.47 kWh

Is it worth spending extra on a higher efficiency washing machine?

Using the above figures, if you did 200 washes per year, the cheapest LOGIK L712WM20 would use 138kWh at a cost of £38.64. The official annual figure is 195 kWh or £54.60.

The HOOVER H-WASH 300 H3WS68TAMCE would use 94kWh at a cost of £26.32. Alternatively, the official stated annual consumption is 118 kWh or £33.04.

If you are doing most of your washing at a lower temperature, these figures will be smaller.

Therefore, if you are looking for a new washing machine purely on the overall cost (rather than all the other features), there is little reason to opt for a higher efficiency but more expensive washing machine.

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