Last month I wrote a few articles about our broken washing machine and our options to either repair it or replace it. I compared front load washers to top load washers. I then investigated the option of repairing the old washer. When I left off with the articles I was on the fence with what I should do. I really wanted to buy a high efficiency front load washer but I really didn’t want to spend the money yet. I was ready to get rid of the 20+ year old washer we had, but it was so much cheaper to just get it repaired.
Well, the more my wife and I investigated our options, the more we leaned to one side. Here’s what we found: high efficiency front load washers do indeed save you money. The savings is mostly in the form of lower water usage, but there is a minor energy savings in the amount of water that needs to be heated per cycle and in the length of time you need to dry your clothes. If you do the math, you’ll find that a new front load washer will pay for itself in energy savings over the course of its lifetime. This assumes the average lifetime of 10 years for these models of washers.
But there’s where the problems begin with the math. The average lifetime of these high efficiency washers is around 10 years, according to Consumer Reports. Not knowing what the data distribution looks like (sorry for my engineering nerdiness coming out here), there could be a large percentage of these washers that don’t make it past seven or eight years. The break-even point is right around ten years, so your machine has to be average or above average to make the purchase worth it.
In fact, when we started quizzing our friends who own high efficiency front load washers, the majority of our [unscientifically selected, non-random] population sample reported that their front loaders didn’t make it more than six years without having problems. This started to scare us a little. We then talked to our friend who happens to be an appliance repairman. He had nothing good to say about the front load washers. From his perspective many of them are poorly designed and they are prone to premature failure in the bearings, which are not an inexpensive repair. Now we were really concerned.
Then we thought about what comes with the new washer. If you get a new washer, you just HAVE to get a new dryer, don’t you? OK, we all know you don’t but that’s the logic that flows through our minds, isn’t it? Washers and dryers are a fashion statement so it’s important to have matching ones. Well we realized that wasn’t exactly necessary but if we chose to get a high efficiency dryer, the cost savings isn’t nearly as good as the front load washer so it doesn’t exactly pay for itself.
So that brings us to decision time. Do we spend upwards of a thousand dollars in the hope of our new washer lasting long enough for the energy savings to pay for the purchase of the washer? Or do we spend just a little on our low efficiency but dependable Maytag top load washer? We called our repairman and fixed the old one for $115. We have no idea how long the washer will last from this point forward, but given that it’s lasted this long I think we’ll definitely get our money’s worth.