How much does it cost to run a washing machine? And how can you save?

Are you wondering how much it costs to run a washing machine? We've done the sums and have found ways to cut your spend
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  • Sometimes it can feel like every day is wash day. Between the kids finding creative new ways to get dirty and the puzzle of the bottomless laundry basket, in a busy household, your washing machine can work overtime.

    However, all those loads of laundry can result in higher electricity bills, especially if your appliance is running several times a week.

    If you’re wondering how much does it cost to run a washing machine, we have the answer. We’ve worked out how much you can expect to spend each cycle – as well as ways to save energy at home on this hungry appliance.

    How much does it cost to run a washing machine?

    According to the Energy Saving Trust the national average price (as of November 2021) per pence/kWh of electricity is 20.33p. We have rounded it to 20p for illustration purposes.

    The main factors that affect how much energy a washing machine uses are its efficiency rating (machines are rated A-G), and wash length and temperature.

    • An example D-rated 9kg washing machine uses 0.76 kWh per cycle on average. This means that each cycle costs 15p to run – over a year of 270 cycles, that’s a cost of £40.50.
    • Whereas an example A-rated 9kg washing machine uses 0.49 kWh per cycle, meaning that it’ll cost 10p a cycle and £27 a year for the same amount of use. Which is far less than it costs to run a tumble dryer.

    Dropping the temperature can affect these figures drastically. Which? found that switching from 40C to 20C saved 62% of the energy consumed.

    grey utility room off the kitchen

    Image credit: Colin Poole

    Are some washing machines cheaper to run than others?

    Washing machines are one of the most heavily used appliances in the home. The Energy Saving Trust estimate that ‘wet’ appliances, ie washing machines and dishwashers, account for nearly 10 per cent of a typical household’s energy bills. So it makes sense to choose the most efficient model you can afford.

    ‘Youreko is an energy savings tool on the Whirlpool website, which rates appliances according to their running costs and demonstrates an appliance’s lifetime financial saving,’ explains Tim Buszka, Head of Brand and Digital at Whirlpool.

    ‘For example, according to Youreko, the Whirlpool 10kg SupremeSilence washing machine (W8 W046WR UK) costs £388 to run over its lifetime, which is a saving of up to £294 compared to the least efficient model available in the UK.’

    What energy saving features should I look for when buying a washing machine?

    If you’re looking for ways to save energy at home, these handy washing machine features could be a good place to start:

    1. Eco modes

    Heating the water accounts for the majority of energy used in a hot wash cycle – up to 90%. Instead, eco cycles are longer wash programmes that clean at lower temperatures with less water to achieve the same results as a hotter, shorter cycle. These lower temperature washes use between 35-59% less energy than a hot wash.

    2. Sensor washing

    More advanced washing machines detect how much laundry is in the drum by weighing it and then washing it only for as long as it needs. This saves money and protects fabrics by not over-washing or washing laundry at too high a temperature. ‘By sensing the size of the load and continuously monitoring the wash programme, sensors adapt the cycle. This can save up to 45 per cent energy and 50 per cent water,’ says Tim Buszka.

    3. Drum sprays

    Several of the latest machines have developed techniques to help make your energy and detergent go further. This includes Hotpoint’s GentlePower, which sprays water and detergent over the clothes, rather than rely on tumbling loads for even distribution. And LG’s TurboWash, which sprays laundry to help shorten wash time, reducing energy by 28%.

    unloading the washing machine

    Image credit: Jon Day

    How can I cut the cost of running a washing machine?

    1. Fill it up

    Wash full loads instead of half loads as they’re less economical – two half loads will always use more energy than a single full load. And if you are washing a half load, remember to choose the corresponding setting if there is one.

    2. Choose cool

    Where you can, wash at a lower temperature or use a cold wash. This uses less energy and is a good option when cleaning clothes that are not very dirty.

    3. Care for your washer

    Look after your  machine to keep it running efficiently. For example, don’t overload the drum. Overloading can cause damage, and prevent water and detergent circulating properly, meaning you might have to re-wash clothes.

    A good rule is to leave a hand’s span width at the top of the drum. Every month, clean the filter and run a ‘service wash’ ie hot, without clothes, to whisk away build-up and bacteria.

    4. Soak away stains

    If you’re washing laundry with stains, give them a pre-soak in water for about half an hour before loading into the machine. This means you won’t have to rely on a longer or hotter wash to shift them.

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