These days, high-end appliances are all the rage. From the kitchen to the laundry room, homeowners are gravitating toward state-of-the-art machines that offer beautiful designs, special features, energy efficiency and more. In this growing segment of the appliance market, it’s hardly surprising that high-efficiency washer and dryer models are on the shopping list for many prospective homebuyers or current owners. But what exactly puts the “high-efficiency” tag into these appliances, and which washing machines or dryers are best to buy in this space? Read on to learn more.
What Makes a High-Efficiency Washer and Dryer?
A high-efficiency washer or dryer (with “high-efficiency” often abbreviated as HE) is an attractive sell to most homeowners for a few reasons. First of all, many modern consumers care deeply about environmental sustainability and the concept of “going green.” Appliances that use less energy, including HE washers or dryers, are an appealing prospect because they promise to be better for the planet.
Secondly, by using less electricity (and, in the case of washing machines, less water), HE washers and dryers are cheaper to operate than their less efficient counterparts. Adopting more efficient appliances is a way for homeowners to reduce their monthly utility bills without much alteration to their lifestyles.
There are other benefits, too. Because high-efficiency top-load or front-load washing machines use less water than standard washers, they also don’t use as much hot water for warm wash loads. If your home has a small water heater, this factor can make a big difference for other hot-water-using tasks, such as showering or running the dishwasher. HE washing machines also remove the agitator—the spindle that you’d typically find in the center of a standard washer—which can allow for higher-capacity laundry loads in the same-sized machine. Finally, HE washers remove more water from your laundry load, which can, in turn, lead to energy savings on the dryer side of the equation.
Do note that companies can’t just tag their laundry appliances as “HE” on a whim. On the contrary, these appliances must meet specific guidelines (set by the United States Department of Energy) to qualify for this designation. When you see a washing machine marked as “HE,” that means it has met the necessary standards for water usage, electricity usage, and detergent usage. If a washing machine misses the standard in even one of these categories, it cannot bear the HE symbol. If the washing machine meets or exceeds the standards—and is certified to have done so by the EnergyStar program—it can be designated as HE.
The same basic idea applies to dryers—albeit, without factoring in water or detergent usage. Instead, dryer efficiency is measured based on how much electricity the appliance uses and how good it is at extracting moisture from clothing. Department of Energy/EnergyStar standards require that a dryer be at least 20 percent more efficient than a standard clothes dryer to receive an HE symbol. As of right now, no dryers on the market have reached these standards, which means that true EnergyStar-certified “HE dryers” do not exist yet. Most dryers use roughly the same amount of energy, and even the more efficient ones don’t clear the “20 percent better than standard” benchmark necessary to score the high-efficiency rating.
When you go to purchase a high-efficiency washer and dryer set, therefore, you will notice that only the washer earns the HE rating. With that point stated, dryers packaged alongside HE washers in high-efficiency washer and dryer sets must meet specific low-energy-use standards—even if those standards don’t move quite into what would constitute a standalone, HE dryer.
Beyond the benefits that HE washers bring to the table, there are also a few performance quirks that stand as drawbacks to particular consumers. For instance, because HE washing machines use less water than standard washers, loads tend to take a little bit longer. You must also use special HE laundry detergent with these appliances, and run a machine-cleaning cycle every so often to prevent bacterial growth. These factors are minor inconveniences at most for the majority of households. However, they are performance details that you will want to know about and consider before making your final buying decision.
Finding the Best Washing Machines to Buy
If you are interested in purchasing an efficiency top-load or front-load washing machine, Starpower is the right place to start. We carry a vast array of washers, dryers, and washer/dryer combos. Our stock includes both HE and non-HE models, from brands such as Whirlpool, Bosch, and Maytag. Several of our non-HE options remain possible, in part because of their affordable prices. However, if you are looking for the best washing machines to buy from our high-efficiency inventory, consider these popular models:
- The 3 Cu. Ft. 11-Cycle High-Efficiency Top-Loading Washer from Maytag
- The Cabrio 5.3 Cu. Ft. 26-Cycle High-Efficiency Top-Loading Washer from Whirlpool
- The Cabrio 4.8 Cu. Ft. 26-Cycle High-Efficiency Top-Loading Washer from Whirlpool
- The 5 cu. Ft. 11-Cycle High-Efficiency Front Load Washer with Steam from Whirlpool
- The 3 cu. Ft. 8-Cycle High-Efficiency Front Loading Washer from Maytag
If you have a specific brand or price range in mind, you can use the filtering tools on our washing machines page to narrow your search. While HE washing machines tend to be a bit more expensive than non-HE options, we stock affordable high-efficiency washers as well. We also carry a few washer/dryer combos if you would prefer to purchase an all-in-one laundry appliance solution.
At Starpower, we are committed to helping our customers find, purchase, and install the best appliances on the market—whether that’s a refrigerator, dishwasher, or a high-efficiency washing machine. If you’re not sure what brand is best or are still on the fence about whether you want an HE-rated washer, feel free to contact us directly. We’d love a chance to talk you through our product selection and help you find the laundry setup that makes sense for your home, your budget, and your personal design and performance preferences. Click here to get in touch.