by April Sanders
A washing machine is a major purchase. Washers are one of the most often used large appliances in your household. Although washers are frequently sold as a set with dryers, washing machines are much more complex machines than dryers and can vary widely by brand and model in size, options offered, design and even energy efficiency. Protect your investment by doing your homework and choosing a washing machine that will meet the specific needs of your family.
Set a budget before you compare. Determine your price range so that you can create a common denominator for the washers you are comparing.
Compare the size of the washers. Experts recommend purchasing the largest capacity washer you can afford. Models labeled "large" are usually adequate for singles or couples. Families benefit from washers that are classified as "super." These washers are usually 2 inches deeper than standard or large models.
Compare the efficiency of the washers. High-efficiency washers use less energy and water. Most are front-loading washing machines. They rotate the clothing around a horizontal axis. As the clothing rotates, it moves through a small amount of water that sits below the level of the door. In this way, the washer uses 40 percent less water than a top-loading washer. High-efficiency washers are more expensive than less-efficient top loaders. In the long run, however, you will save money on water and detergent by choosing a high-efficiency machine. Washers with an Energy Star rating, whether top-loading or front-loading, use one-third less energy and one-half less water than traditional machines.
Examine the controls. Some washers have electric controls while others have manual (knobs). Electric control-pads contain computer chips and are aesthetically pleasing, but they are also a lot more difficult to repair than knobs.
Check out the inside of the washers. Stainless steel washer-tubs are better because they can spin faster and do not crack or chip as porcelain tubs are prone to do.
Compare the options available on each washer. Washers come in different finishes and colors. Some have sensors that can automatically select the proper water temperature for each cycle. Others have "steam-only" cycles. Many have a "quick-clean" cycle for those emergency loads. Choose the washer that has the options that your family will use most often.