The Most Efficient Washing Machines


At MetaEfficient, I evaluate appliances based on a number of factors, namely: energy efficiency, effectiveness, reliability, and price. This holds true for washing machines, because all of these factors need to be considered and weighed against each other (I’d also like to include lifecycle analysis, but  there’s no information available for washers). For raw efficiency data, one can turn to the Energy Star ratings, to work out which machines use the least amount of energy and water overall. Based on the Energy Star data, the most efficient washing machines for 2008 are made by LG Electronics and Kenmore.

Three LG washers received the best Energy Star ratings, and four Kenmore washers followed very close behind the LG machines. These ratings are based on the Modified Energy Factor (MEF) which is a way to compare the relative efficiency of different units of clothes washers (higher is better). The second factor is the Water Factor which is the number of gallons per cycle per cubic foot that a washing machine uses (lower is better). Here is a listing of the highest rated washing machines according the February 2008 update:

  1. LG Electronics TROMM SteamWasher WM248#H, 2.65 (MEF), 3.6 (Water Factor)
  2. LG Electronics Stainless Steel SteamWasher WM0001H: 2.65 (MEF), 3.4 (Water Factor)
  3. LG Electronics TROMM SteamWasher WM268#H: 2.65 (MEF), 3.3 (Water Factor)
  4. Kenmore Washer Model 4757*70+: 2.6 (MEF), 3.7 (Water Factor)
  5. Kenmore Washer Model 4756*70+: 2.6 (MEF), 3.7 (Water Factor)

(Model numbers often contain wildcard characters, such as *, #, and X, that are placeholders for non-energy attributes, such as color. )

In this analysis, I’m excluding Energy Star washers with a load capacity of less than 3 cubic feet, these compact machines get high energy ratings but are inefficient in their water use.

You’ll notice that all of these machines are front-loading washers, the ConsumerSearch product review guide says:

Experts generally agree that front-loading washing machines (also called horizontal-axis washing machines) are better than top-loaders. Front-loaders use a dryer-like action to tumble clothes in and out of water and detergent, while conventional top-loaders circulate clothes with some type of agitator. Because gravity is used to tumble the laundry, front-loaders are gentler on clothes and cause less tangling than top loading machines. In addition, their fast spin speeds remove more water from clothing, thereby reducing drying time and resulting in further energy savings. Because of the design, you can’t soak clothes and you have to use special low-sudsing “HE” or high-efficiency detergents.

Let’s look at the most efficient washers in more detail, followed by an efficient washer we think is the best value for your money:


LG TROMM SteamWasher

This is an innovative washer: it uses stream to wash your clothes, and this process makes it the most efficient washer available. The steam cleaning is gentle on your clothes, and tend to remove wrinkles. The washer uses only 145 kWh of energy per year, and 4,690 gallons of water per year on average. This is significantly better than conventional washers. The SteamWasher is also the largest capacity front-loading machine with 3.63 cubic feet of space. It can spin your clothes at 1200 rpm, which means you’ll save on drying energy and time. The problem with this washing machine is that it’s expensive. It has a recommend price of $1600, and most retail stores sell it for around $1400 currently. A better option might be to get a lower cost but still very efficient LG machine (see our review of one below).

In terms of reliability, ConsumerSearch says: “The LG TROMM SteamWasher hasn’t been on the market long enough to establish a reliability track record, but the J.D. Power’s major appliance study showed that LG washing machines in general have the highest customer satisfaction rating of all brands.”

The LG TROMM SteamWasher is available from Sears.

Kenmore High-Efficiency Washers


The Kenmore “High-Efficiency” washers live up to their name, and have a reasonably good track record in regards to reliability. The Kenmore machines use 69% less water and 60% less energy per load compared to conventional top load washers. They also spin at 1000 rpm, which means less energy will be spent drying your clothes.

The Kenmore front-loading washing machines are priced at $600-$900, and only available from Sears.

LG Supercapacity Front Load Washers


LG Electronics makes less expensive washing machines that are also highly efficient. For example, the front-loading LG WM0642HW (estimated retail $850) gets good reviews. It’s more affordable because it has fewer bells and whistles, and because it has a small door and window. The LG WM0642HW has a 3.83-cubic-foot capacity, automatic temperature control, an automatic detergent dispenser and a stainless-steel tub. A similar model, the LG WM2016C (estimated retail $780), costs a bit less, but is slightly smaller, with a smaller window.

The LG WM2016C gets a Modified Energy Factor (MEF) rating of 2.25, which is quite good — this machine will only consume 152 kWh / year, and 4323 gallons of water per year on average. That’s only 7 kWh more energy per year than the SteamWasher, and 367 more gallons of water, for half the price. Because of this, the LG WM2016C is the MetaEfficient recommendation for an efficient washing machine.

These LG washers are available from Amazon and Sears.

17 thoughts on “The Most Efficient Washing Machines”

  1. I have found that Siemens have great energy saving appliances. The Siemens Vario Perfect is awesome. It is an energy saving washing machine, not a steamer, and it washes yours clothes super clean! It even has a special program for Lingere and a quick wash program! A steamer only really steams your clothes and does not get the dirt out your clothes. I am not to sure how a steamer can be energy efficient because it needs to heat the water over 100 degrees…

  2. I was also very disappointed at buying an expensive energy efficient washer and finding out that not only were my clothes not clean, but they were tied into knots by the spin cycle. I called the company and they confirmed that all manufacturers had eliminated the lint filter from their washing machines so the clothes did not seem as clean. Hanging clothes on the line would not work because they would be full of lint and hair. So the only option was to use a clothes dryer. How energy efficient is that? If anybody knows of an efficient automatic washer with a lint filter, let me know. The person who tested these washers must not have looked at how clean the clothes actually were.

  3. LG offers brilliant engineering in their modern washers. I guess what sets these washers apart from the other efficient washing machines is that their construction can last longer. In these washers, the have used direct drive motor technology. Less parts are moving so there are less wear and tear.

  4. I think we all have to be realistic when it comes to buying energy efficient washing machines. Most of the newer features are not without downsides. It might clean efficiently or spin fast but it might take its toll on the washer motor. The max extra spin option of some washers to help remove excess moisture from clothes can wear out motor easily. I am not sure if you agree but concentrate on which features you really need and those that really stays true to its energy and water saving features instead of being attracted to newer models with spiffy functions.

    1. I tend to think that the motor spinning out 18 gallons of water versus spinning out 40 gallons of water is working much less and sure to last much longer… but that’s just my opinion. In addition, there is always the dryer motor to think about. I can only imagine that a dryer tumbling clothes that have been spun out at the faster rate and have substanially less water weight is much easier on that motor too!

  5. The new energy efficient (read water deprived) machines are the most worthless product foisted upon consumers since the early “energy efficient” automobiles of the ’70s. My mother, who used washtubs and scrubbing boards, and was thrilled with her wringer type machine, would turn over in her grave if she could see how we are regressing in the name of energy efficiency.

    1. Bob, I totally agree with you on this one. These types of machines are the equivalent of giving our clothes a spit bath. An absurd, grotesque representation of a “washing” machine.

  6. I don’t see mention of any of the European brands which i certainly asociate w/ much better energy and water conservation such as Miele, Bosch, and Asko. Were there included in your review? If not, you may be misleading consumers!!

  7. Actually, from my personal research, I find that Miele washers and dryers are the most energy effcient in terms of water consumption, efficiency in cleaning, and great results overall!

  8. This reviewer may have looked at the facts and rated them as highly efficient in regards to “eco standards”, but he obviously never used an LG for a substantial amount of time. BEWARE: They do not clean clothes well! If you enjoy half clean clothes, by all means purchase these machines. LG also has poor service dept. just read the MANY blogs. I wish I had done more research in regards to customer satisfaction before making my purchase.

  9. I’ve heard that the front loaders are not suitable for a floor that is not either cement (like a basement) or ceramic tile. I’ve heard that they they vibrate too much and walk around and become unstable. True?

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