As the green revolution surges forward and becomes increasingly culturally relevant, the number of environmentally-friendly, energy-efficient appliances hitting the market grows exponentially. But how do these appliances become more efficient than there predecessors? How are new appliances made that can clean laundry without blowing a fuse? What is it about them that enables them to use less electricity to complete the same job? This article will explain how.

energy starYou’ve probably heard of Energy Star appliances; they sport the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s Energy Star logo, which looks like the word “energy” written in cursive, eventually running into a star. If an appliance has an Energy Star logo, that appliance uses a particular proportion less energy than a standard model of that appliance. This proportion can very depending on the appliance, so look up the percentages yourself if you’re curious about how much more efficient an Energy Star dishwasher is as opposed to how much more efficient an Energy Star dryer is.

In terms of clothes washers, for example, Energy Star appliances use around 30 percent less energy and 50 percent less water; that’s an extremely significant improvement, and can lead to some major savings for your water budget in just a year’s time. But how do these washers perform the same task so much more efficiently than their non-Energy Star-qualified competitors?

To explain, we’ll have to cover the way a standard washing machine works. They tend to use two tubs; an inner tub holds the clothes in place and enables water to pass in and out through holes in the tub’s surface, while an outer tub keeps all the water contained in the appliance until it’s drained out during the spin cycle.

In a traditional washer, the agitation of the clothing is carried out by a center post in the washer that moves backwards and forwards, churning the water and clothes in a way that releases dirt and grime. The loosened filth is held in suspension by the detergent until the water is eventually drained. Normal washers hold between 12-16 pounds of clothing and water.

front loading washerAs Energy Star appliance engineers have noticed, this design leaves a lot to be desired. If the load becomes unbalanced, the machine can produce an irritating din and potentially even move around during the spin cycle. A standard washer also tends to leave clothes substantially wet even after the spin cycle. Keeping all the clothing completely submerged in water throughout the process requires a fair amount of water to be used every cycle.

So what are some other ways that washers can work that increase efficiency? Some washers have been made that don’t have agitators and are front-loading instead of top-loading. This design rotates clothing up and out of water, allowing gravity to play a part in the movement’s momentum. Thus the same process can be completed using less energy and less water. And decreasing the amount of water means even less energy needs to be used. Front loading washers can also generally handle larger loads due to this increase in efficiency. That means fewer loads are run per pound of clothing, which increases efficiency even further.