There are two basic types of washing machines: top-loading and front-loading. In addition to defining where you open the door and put in the clothes, these categories starkly define the water usage of washers.
Not All Washers Were Created Equal
The basic idea of a washing machine is to combine dirty clothes with detergent and water. Through a cycle, the machine moves the clothes up and down through soapy and then clean water. While top-loading and front-loading washers use the same parts and both will give you clean clothes, the water usage differs between the two types.
Top-loading machines use up to 40-gallon tub nearly full of water in each cycle. An agitator, which sits in the centre of the tub and spins back and forth. This pulls the clothes down in the water then letting them float up to be pulled down again.
Front-loading machines use gravity and between 10 and 24 gallons of water (depending on the washer size) to launder clothes. Because the tub of a front-loading machine is tilted sideways, instead of an agitator, the tub itself simply spins, and gravity does the rest of the work. Front-loading washers can get the same job done with far less water.
Why Water Use Matters
Almost 95 per cent of the electricity consumed by washing machines is used to heat the water. Less water means less power and less detergent, resulting in a lower cost to you (and the environment) per load.
Ways to Save Even More
If you can't replace your top-loading washer, consider washing your clothes in cold water, or using only cold and warm water cycles. In fact, washing your clothes in hot water for a year uses more electricity than leaving the fridge door open 24 hours a day for a year and it fades and wears out your clothes. If you find that washing in warm water doesn't clean as well, try a warm or hot water soak before the warm or cold wash cycle.