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Front Loading Washers and Combination Units
 
These Units Use Much Less Energy
 

Lack of space may have driven the popularity of the washer dryer combination unit in Europe, but now American consumers are able to sample these water and energy conserving machines. The two in one design runs automatically from wash to dry, eliminating the need to transfer clothes from one machine to the other. The compact size of the unit also makes it perfect for those living in apartments and condominiums. Furthermore, it costs less than two separate units.

 

The washer dryer combination unit simplifies doing laundry. Just put in clothes, shoose settings and press start. You will come back to clean, dry clothes that are ready to fold and put away. This product is fully automatic from the washing through the drying cycles.

 

The washer dryer combination is front loading, with a front access control panel, a stainless steel inner and outer tub which precludes rust or staining, and easy to reach controls and filters. Thus, it is easy for anyone to use and maintain, particularly those with limited mobility.

 

The product offers a wide range of wash cycle settings and wash/rinse water temperature combinations. The door is locked during the wash cycle, but can be opened during the dry cycle.

 

To dry laundry, the combination washer dryer has an automatic pre heat feature which begins warming up the heaters during the final wash spin cycle. This cycle can spin the stainless steel drum at speeds of up to 1000 rpm. The high speed spin uses centrifugal force to "pull" water from laundry. The water is extracted from the clothes processor through thousands of holes in the drum. After clothes have dried, there is a ten minute cool down period to reduce wrinkles.

 

Some models have shock absorbers and a spring suspension system. In conjuntion with the adjustable front leveling legs, these features reduce noise and wear and tear on internal components of the machine. Other models also have an auto balancing controller for unbalanced loads.

 

PATH Attributes

The combination of reduced hot water use and better water extraction (due to higher RPMs) results in lower energy use for wahing and drying.

 

The combination waher dryer reduces water and energy consumption compared to conventional units.

 

Ease of Implementation

The combination washer-dryer may be difficult to find in traditional retail appliance outlets. Although many manufacturers sell these products in Europe, only three manufacturers were identified which sell to the U.S. market. The "QuietLine", for example, was invented in the United States, but was exported to Europe after World War II. It is only now being marketed in the United States. As a result, many American retailers are unfamiliar with the product. Similarly, service technicians may not be as familiar with these products as with conventional washing systems. Thus, repairing and maintaining combination washer-dryer units may be complicated.

 

In addition, the product operates differently than a traditional American laundry system. Loads are smaller and it takes approximately 2 to 2 hours to go through a complete wash and dry cycle. To use this system effectively, consumers will have to change their washing habits. One manufacturer suggests washing a load every day or every other day rather than trying to wash all laundry at once.

 

Also, since the combination washer-dryer dries clothes by using cold water to condense the moisture from the hot air, and there is no external exhaust system, moisture may remain in the machine after the end of the cool down period. As a result, clothes may seem damp. One manufacturer recommends that the homeowner not repeat the dry cycle, but instead, take the clothes out of the machine. Within a few minutes, the clothes will be dry.

 

Initial Cost

With costs from $800 to $1100, the system costs less than the standard setup or two individual units.

 

Operational Cost

Due to less energy and water consumption, it is estimated that the unit can save a typical 4 person family $100 a year on laundry utility consumption.

 

U.S. Code Acceptance

The Federal Trade Commission requires that all clothes washers, including combination washer-dryer units, display the yellow and black EnergyGuide label to provide consumers with information on the energy use of the product. The EnergyGuide label on combination washer-dryer units, however, only rates the product's energy use against other compact, front-loading washing machines, rather than with the standard capacity, top-loading systems.

 

Several models meet ENERGY STAR and Consortium of Energy Efficiency (CEE) standards.

 

Installation

Washer-dryer combination units do not contain an agitator. Thus, they run quietly. For this reason and because no venting is required, the product can be installed anywhere there is access to plumbing, a drain and a standard electrical receptacle. The hot air used to dry laundry is water-cooled internally and the condensation created is flushed from the machine by the water pump. This allows the homeowner to install the product under a counter or in any enclosed area without having to worry about the hot dryer exhaust heating up the room.

 

Warranty

Warranties can range from 1 to 5 years depending on part and manufacturer.

 

Benefits/Costs

The combination washer-dryer provides the following benefits:

  • Convenience. There is no need to transfer loads from one machine to another.
  • Lower initial investment than two separate units (retails for anywhere from $895 to $1045).
  • Lower operating costs than a conventional vertical-access unit. Since it uses less water (13 to 16 gallons vs. 30 gallons for a typical front-loading washer and 40 to 60 gallons for a conventional top-loader), it takes less energy to heat the water and less detergent to clean the laundry. It is estimated that using this product can save a typical family of four at least $100 per year in energy, water and detergent costs.
  • Consideration for the environment. Since it requires less water and less detergent than a conventional system, it saves natural resources and creates less water and air pollution.
  • Energy efficiency. These products use less energy than a conventional system. The "QuietLine" model, for example, uses only 1.4 kilowatts per hour during the drying cycle as opposed to 5 to 6 kilowatts per hour for a conventional dryer.
  • Complete washing and drying capability uses only about half the space of a conventional washer and dryer.
  • Protection for clothes. Horizontal axis (front loading) machines are gentler on clothes than vertical axis machines because they use a rocking motion to "tumble wash" the laundry. There is no agitator to harm clothes. Accessibility. These products are helpful to individuals with disabilities and other special needs who must use a wheelchair. The horizontal axis makes it easy to load and control from a seated position. In addition, clothes are loaded and removed when they are dry and lighter and easier to handle. Eliminating the extra motion from washer to dryer is also beneficial.
  • Quietness. The horizontal axis allows the machines to run without an agitator. Some models even contain shock absorbers, a spring suspension system, and an auto-balancing controller for unbalanced loads.
  • Diverse placement options. These products require no ventilation. The hot air used to dry laundry is water-cooled internally and the condensation created is flushed from the machine by the water pump. This allows the homeowner to install the product under a counter or in any enclosed area without having to worry about the hot dryer exhaust heating up the room.

 

 

Copyright 2012 Ronald Sauve All Rights Reserved

This page was last modified on April 06, 2012

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