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Before You Buy a Washer - Washer Buying Tips and Resources

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Given the range of models, styles and sizes of washers, there are many things to consider when shopping for a washer to ensure this laundry appliance will be adequate for your family's needs. Costs and installation requirements are also of prime importance with this buying decision. These tips will help you to find the appliance that's right for your home.

Washer Styles

Although installation is a prime factor for any washer, the first decision you need to make is what style of washer you want. A traditional top-load washer although less energy-efficient, costs much less than a front-load or high-efficiency top-loader. When space is limited, you could consider a stacking top-load unit that includes a dryer, a dual appliance unit - one machine that washes and dries, or a smaller front-load laundry pair with stacking options. For apartments, a dual appliance or portable spin washer (no plumbing), may be a good choice.

Washer Capacity & Physical Size

Washer capacity is measured by interior drum cubic inches and manufacturer recommendations for washload size. These vary with washer brands. For a large family, look for a full-size or oversize top or front-load model. Compact front-loaders have small or medium capacities and vary in size from 24" to 26", with many having stacking options. Most washers are generally 27" to 30", so measure the space before shopping. A small washer is ideal for a couple, but you may not be able to wash a large comforter in it. High-efficiency washers may have optional pedestals or side storage units which need extra room.

Installation Considerations

Most washers require plumbing installations, with the exception of certain dual units or compact spin washers that can be connected via an adapter to the kitchen faucet when required. If your home is not washer-ready, you may want to consult with a plumber before buying a washer. Consider washer/dryer positioning for ease of use when planning a spot for laundry appliances. Newer front-load models generally do not have reversible doors and you should allow ample room for door swing. Stacking units will require more head room, as will washers that have pedestals. Check physical measurements before buying.

Top-Load vs Front-Load Washers - Things to Consider

The traditional top-loader is more comfortable to load and cheaper to buy. High efficiency washers in top-load or front-load models, cost much more but are water and energy savers, with front-load models having the best energy ratings. Front-load washers also have a better spin leaving less water in the load which means less drying time. High-efficiency models require low-sudsing HE detergent due to low water levels and they require a little more care. They also have more cycles and convenience features than traditional top-loaders. Warranty periods generally are a year regardless of washer style.

Energy Efficiency & Service Contracts

Front-load high-efficiency models lead the pack when it comes to saving electricity and water, but all washers generally have better energy ratings than they used to. For best energy efficiency, buy an EnergyStar rated washer. Don't be afraid to compare Energy Guide figures; it can save you money in the long run. Learn more about the CEE tier on washers, and how a CEE Tier III means more energy savings.

Appliance Finish Options & Companion Dryers

Laundry appliances are sporting some exciting bold colors as well as subtle hues and neutral finishes. You should consider how color will impact your laundry area and the dryer. Although delightful, color can date an appliance. A pebbled texture helps to hide scratches or mars in the finish. When buying a washer, it's a good time to consider buying or replacing a dryer if it's old or not performing well, especially if laundry set savings are available.

Washing Performance & Cycles

Traditional top-loading washers have fewer washing cycles and shorter wash times, and generally deliver a clean wash. Front-load models have shown even better performance, are gentler on clothes since they have no agitators, but washing cycles are usually much longer. They are however quieter than regular top-loaders, making them ideal if located close to the main part of the home.

Best Washer Features

Regardless of type of washer, look for water level options for small, mid and large size loads, and water temperature settings so you can wash/rinse with cold water if desired. A permanent-press or casual wear setting that has a low spin for less wrinkles, is also a must. A delicate or handwash cycle is very handy. Other features include steam, delay wash, stainless steel non-rusting washer tub, extra rinse, presoak, dispensers for softener and bleach, end-of-cycle signal and some models have automatic self-adjusting water temperature and level features.

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