Smarter Living: Stuff

If your clothes washer still works, it may seem cost-effective to put off an upgrade. But your old machine may be hiking your water and electric bills without your even knowing it. Here .s how to decide when it .s time for a new one.

If your machine is a top loader and at least seven years old, you should upgrade to an Energy Star-labeled front loader as soon as possible. Although front loaders are generally more expensive, they circulate clothes in a shallower pool of water, using less water and heat and saving you money in the long run. Water- and energy-saving technology continues to evolve rapidly, which means that even if your current machine is relatively new, chances are a newer model will pay for itself over time. When Greg Keoleian, Ph.D., codirector of the Center for Sustainable Systems at the University of Michigan, and other researchers compared the average life cycle of a washing machine (14 years) with the amount of water and emissions that could be saved by a newer model, they determined that even replacing a 2005 machine could have water-saving benefits. Of course, the older the model, the more you .ll save with an upgrade. Getting rid of a pre-1994 washer, for example, can save a family $110 a year on utility bills.

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Salvage or Scrap: Clothes Dryers

last revised 11/9/2011

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