Dear Recyclebank: My washing machine is one of the big water users in our house. It's over 10 years old. Should I replace it for the water savings, or run it as long as possible since it's not broken? How should I get rid of it when I do replace it? –Barb E.
Dear Barb: It’s admirable to want to keep your good quality machine, rather than jumping ship for the newest model right away. That said, appliances continue to make great strides in efficiency, and it is definitely worth comparing your options.
Since you purchased your current machine ten years ago, the Department of Energy has established efficiency standards that reduce water usage for washing machines by 19 to 35 percent, depending on the model. Since your washer is one of the largest water users in your household, the potential savings from a new machine would likely add up quickly. Water use isn’t the only factor you’ll want to consider, though. A washing machine also contributes to your home’s energy use, and the new efficiency standards have reduced electricity consumption by new machines by as much as a third. Certain models may even exceed these goals; the EPA and Consumer Reports have both noted potential reductions of over 50 percent. These energy savings, even more than water savings, can have a substantial impact on your monthly bills.
Appliances also lose efficiency over time. Your washing machine may be using more water than it used to in order to rinse the same amount of laundry, or may be using more energy to compensate for mechanical issues. If you’ve noticed increases in your bills, consider whether your laundry may be the culprit. If your machine still seems to be working at its highest possible efficiency, you may want to keep it around a bit longer since the energy and water used to mine materials and manufacture new machines would probably make your potential impacts somewhat of a wash (pun intended!).