This page is the open source and free-shared design and construction page for the Duplicable City Center eco-laundry facility capable of processing laundry for over 300 people. This page will continue to evolve until it includes complete open source and free-shared purchase orders, installation instructions, maintenance and use instructions, and all other needed specifics for duplication and care of the One Community eco-laundry facility as part of the Duplicable City Center or as a stand-alone component. After that it will evolve even further through global collaboration and sharing the evolutions and adaptations for other people’s projects and our additional 7 sustainable villages using these templates and plans.
This page discusses this with the following sections:
Eco-laundry is laundry done with machines that combine affordability with durability and produce clean laundry while minimizing chemical, water, and energy use. The information listed on this page is the best we have found thus far for combining all of these criteria.
With the desire to maximize sustainable laundry practices, we see the ultimate expression of eco-laundry, as we’ll show here, as the idea of doing laundry in a way that combines durability and efficiency with affordability in a community-based model. While a traditional understanding of eco-laundry would encompass laundry washing and drying net-cost savings through an analysis of energy and water savings over the life of the machine as well as equipment costs, we offer a more comprehensive model that further includes the consideration of total labor requirements and maintenance costs. We do this by comparing the traditional residential laundry options with commercial and industrial laundry and demonstrating how the benefits that come from our eco-laundry model can easily be applied in a collaborative community model like One Community’s.
Open Sourcing these details allows for application elsewhere too. As you will see, these ideas can be applied anywhere people see enough benefit and are willing to work together. In accordance with One Community’s methodology for world change, our goal is to demonstrate this as easy enough, affordable enough, and attractive enough for more and more people to apply and adapt these ideas globally.
Eco-laundry is beneficial individually and to society. According to the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, residential clothes washers and dishwashers account for approximately 3 percent of household energy use and more than 20 percent of indoor water consumption. Making these processes more efficient saves money and resources.
In 2021 alone, the United States generated over 4 trillion kilowatt hours of utility-scale electricity, approximately 61% of which was produced from fossil fuels (coal, natural gas and petroleum). Choosing more energy efficient products saves money on monthly utility bills and also helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions linked to climate change. By reducing water consumption, eco-laundry also helps protect our lakes, streams, and oceans. Additionally, instead of twisting and pulling clothes around a turning agitator as done in older washing machine types, front-load and advanced top-load clothes washing machines use more sophisticated wash systems to gently flip and spin clothes through a reduced stream of water, which lengthens the lifespan of your clothing.
Amal Lazar: MS Mechanical Engineering
Jinxi Feng: Environmental Consultant and primary contributor to this page
Western States Design: Initial laundry consultation and machinery exploration
Charles Gooley: Web Designer
Julia Meaney: Web and Content Reviewer and Editor
Eco-laundry implementation, improvements, and complete infrastructure development can be looked at from several different perspectives. For the purpose of a comprehensive and easy to understand tutorial, we’ve divided this into the following sections:
Our purpose here is to provide approaches anyone can easily apply while clarifying the benefits and costs of the various levels of increased sustainability and efficiency.
The most basic approach to eco-laundry is understanding the difference between the available consumer washer types. Existing laundry machines focus on improving the machine efficiency of energy and water consumptions while maintaining clothes washing performance. There are two common types of washing machines: top-loading and front-loading. Top-loading machines with agitator models, also known as high-efficiency (HE) washing machines, require less time and water consumption in a regular washing cycle and are thus more efficient than top-loading washing machines without an agitator. Front-loading machines are generally more expensive but produce better cleaning results, consume less water, and are gentler than HE top-loading washing machines.
One relevant note about washer vibration and front-loading washers: When thinking about the information above, keep in mind your floor type. The high-spin speed of a washer causes vibration, which may be easily absorbed by concrete floors. However, for wood-framed floors, it is noteworthy to be aware that front-loading washing machines may cause significant vibrational noise for you and anyone sharing your space. Front-loading washing machines may also collect water around the rubber door gasket and develop mold.
For extensive details about top-loading and front-loading washing machines, including specific brand analysis, you can click here to see the Consumer Reports on washing machines.
In order to understand what makes a dryer more sustainable, we first need to take a look at the typical dryer and its impact on the environment (energy consumption, pollution, etc). From that, we can identify areas that engineers tackle in order to make drying laundry more environmentally-friendly, giving us an idea of what an efficient and sustainable dryer should be.
A laundry dryer operates through the combination of three factors: Air flow, heat, and drum rotation. Electricity and/or gas works as the energy source of a conventional dryer. A conventional dryer can consume as much energy as an efficient clothes washer, refrigerator, and dishwasher combined. Therefore, a dryer is very expensive to run and does no good to the environment.
The main concern of engineers in making a conventional dryer more sustainable is reducing its energy consumption and emissions. This task is critical because blowing hot air while rotating a heavy drum requires a lot of energy, calling for innovative alternative mechanisms for drying clothes in a more sustainable manner. The following table presents different technologies that make an electric laundry dryer more environmentally-friendly.
Now that you understand the basics of laundry efficiency, the simplest approach for an individual household to improve their sustainable living is by choosing eco-friendly and energy-and-water efficient products. ENERGY STAR® certified washers and dryers are purposed to make this easy. The Department of Energy supports the testing and verification of ENERGY STAR products in collaboration with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), using a universal measurement of residential and commercial washing machine water and energy efficiency.
As specified in the current Department of Energy Code of Federal Regulations at 10 CFR430.32(g), residential and commercial washer and dryer manufacturers have restrictions on minimum MEF/IMEF and maximum WF/IWF. As of April 22, 2021, the ENERGY STAR criteria for residential and commercial clothes washers are as follows.
It is estimated that the average American family washes 300 loads of laundry each year. With the ENERGY STAR® certification, household clothes washers use about 20% less energy and 30% less water than regular washers. This means replacing your old washing machine with an ENERGY STAR certified machine will save significant water and energy. Research indicates that there are 76 million top-loading washers, 25 million of which are at least 10 years old. Washers built before 2003 are significantly less efficient than newer models. These inefficient washers are estimated to cost consumers $2.9 billion each year in energy and water consumption.
In a community model, or with any group willing to work together for each other’s benefit, an alternative way to do laundry is to use a commercial laundry model. Many resources and data online point to these models being more efficient and sustainable than residential laundry options. These models are widely used in laundry mats, gyms, and several other industries that require larger capacities because washing this way saves both money and resources.
To illustrate this, here is an image that shows the relationship between washing machine capacity/load size and the Modified Energy Factor (MEF) and Water Factor (WF):
As you can see, there is a pattern demonstrating that as washing machine capacity grows, the MEF increases and the WF decreases. This means lower energy and water consumption in a washing cycle for the same unit load. Sustainable energy infrastructure can bring these costs down even more and in a collaborative community model, shared labor can also provide significant individual and group time-saving benefits.
Based on these mainstream understandings of commercial laundry, we conducted our research with commercial machines in mind as the assumed best options. However, through analyses of the best commercial and residential washers available we were surprised to find commercial machines to be only slightly more efficient in electricity use. We further found that residential machines outperform commercial machines in water use and in multiple other considerations. See the “A Surprise in Our Findings” section for details.
To make a truly educated decision about the best approach to choosing a washer for our eco-laundry design, we invested hundreds of hours into research, calculations, and the creation of a tool for objectively evaluating machines and calculating their long-term water and energy savings. We will discuss the details here with the following sections:
An important note: We completed the research for this section in November 2016. Our research therefore provides a benchmark for the best of the best at this time, so anyone seeking something better can compare their findings against ours. We are aware that the market for eco-laundry products is constantly evolving and improving, so newer and potentially more efficient technology may now exist. We will be re-doing all of our research before making our final purchase decision and this page will be updated accordingly. However, this research sufficiently evaluates the best options on the market in 2016 and will be used as the template for all future research.
Before establishing a model to start our savings comparison, we researched the specifications of the existing residential washing machine products that have been the best sellers and/or most popular products on Best Buy’s website. Here is our selection as a representative for each residential washer type (research completed Nov. 2016):
The table below shows their specifications. Prices were current as of January 2017.
For commercial washing machines, we chose two products among 136 ENERGY STAR certified commercial washers and ran a preliminary test to compare these two to get the maximum utility savings numbers. The two selected machines were found by filtering all choices to find the ten with the highest MEF (Modified Energy Factor) and the ten with the lowest WF (Water Consumption Factor) ratings, and then choosing two that appeared in both of the top-ten lists for these criteria. This gave us the two front-loading machines seen in the table below that includes their specifications.
For a detailed comparison of the specifications of the most popular commercial laundry products we researched, visit our Commercial Laundry Products Google Spreadsheet. For a detailed comparison of the top MEF and WF rated commercial and residential products, visit our ENERGY STAR certified products Google Spreadsheet.
Based on the data and using our savings calculator, we ran the calculation for a multi-family household with 4 households as our baseline. To do this, we made several assumptions concerning general consumption including water and electricity rate, households number, average household washing number, and clothes washers unit conversions. For both residential and commercial purposes, we assumed the average washing load is 1024 loads per year for a 4-household multifamily residence. Some washers labeled the unit of capacity with pounds and some with cubic feet, which we assume a multiplier of 4 to convert the capacity unit of cubic feet to pounds for both residential and commercial types. This multiplier could vary with capacity and machine types. Later in our analysis, we will assume the number of households to be 1, 5, 50, 100, and 500 respectively to examine scalability and maximization.
With this in mind, the table below demonstrates the data generated through our research and calculations of electricity and water consumption and savings when using ENERGY STAR washing models instead of traditional models. It is important to note that our calculations are based on an industry that is constantly evolving, and traditional models are not as bad as they used to be. Generally speaking (as we’ve stated above), front-loaders are more sustainable than top-loaders when comparing utility consumption and costs. We found that residential top-loading ENERGY STAR washers can save 37% on electricity and 55% on water consumption compared with conventional top-loading washing machines, while residential front-loading ENERGY STAR washers can save 34% on electricity and 32% on water consumption compared with conventional front-loading types:
A detailed analysis of the cost savings of changing to each of the four ENERGY STAR choices is shown below. Changing the washing machines from conventional to ENERGY STAR certified, residential top-loading machines have the biggest life cycle cost-saving benefit in a direct comparison with a traditional model, followed by residential front-loading and commercial front-loading. Both of the commercial washers in the chart below are front loading because this is the most efficient design.
If the percentages above seem confusing, you must keep in mind that this is comparing top-loading conventional to top-loading ENERGY STAR and front loading conventional to front-loading ENERGY STAR models for the first two, and front-loading conventional commercial to front-loading ENERGY STAR commercial models for the second two. Front-loading machines were only used for the commercial comparisons because front-loading always outperforms top-loading. This also means that any comparison of a front-loading ENERGY STAR washer to a conventional top-loading washer will produce even more significant water and energy savings.
With this in mind, the LG – GCWF 1069*# has a greater life cycle total cost savings and end cost savings than the Electrolux – W5105H. We therefore used the LG – GCWF 1069**# as a representative for the commercial front-loading type in our next calculations to explore maximization and scalability.
Next, we compared the commercial washer savings for 1 household with those of a 5, 50, 100 and 500 household community to see the cost-saving potentials for larger groups. As mentioned above, we used the LG – GCWF 1069**# as our source data. Here are the results:
What you see in this table is that the net cost savings are negative for one 1 household, meaning that it is not financially beneficial for a single household to switch to commercial-sized ENERGY STAR certified products because of the additional purchasing price. However, as the number of households grows, the total cost savings and net cost savings also increase dramatically. These net-savings were justifiable even for groups as small as 5 families, significant for groups of 50+, and dramatic for a group as large as 500 households with savings of over 72,000 kWh of energy, 744,000 gallons of water, and $68,000 of net cost. For the group of 5 families the payback period for the initial cost was also only 2 years and for a group of 50 of more, the payback period was just 1 year.
To summarize and explore a bit deeper, electricity savings happen even with only 1 household switching to maximum-efficiency commercial front-loading laundry machines. However, they would have to wait to have enough laundry to run them at capacity, and the increased cost of the machine would still mean a net-negative cost result. Once you get over 5 households, the savings over the lifetime of the more expensive and efficient machine become justified if people are in a situation where coordination of laundry work is practical (click here to read how One Community will accomplish this). These savings become greater and greater as the number of households coordinating increases anywhere beyond 5.
Here are the electricity usage and energy savings as the number of households participating increases:
Here are the water usage and savings figures as the number of households participating increases:
Here are the total projected net water and energy savings over the life cycles of the machine as the number of households participating increases:
The following section includes an analysis to determine the capacity and maximum load size of each of these washer choices. In order to finalize our washer decision and ensure that we have chosen the most energy and cost efficient machine, we have developed a more in-depth comparison of the two.
The volumetric capacity of each model as according to their manuals is as follows:
Our calculations of their volumetric capacities are as follows:
*Note: Dimensions of the Samsung washer cylinder are not presented in the chart, so we approximated the radius and depth based on the other dimensions and the washer’s images.
As can be seen in the above tables, the results we got are compatible with what is presented in the manuals. Further, both washers typically fall in the range of a standard machine size (3.5 to 4.4 cu ft), which can carry 12 to 16 pounds of laundry per load.
According to the washer capacity analysis presented by Best Buy, a regular size washer between 3.1 and 4.0 cu ft will carry a 12 to 16 pound load of laundry, while a larger-capacity model with volumetric capacity between 4.2 and 4.5 cu ft can hold up to 20 pounds or more. Upon this reference, we conclude that the Samsung washer can carry much more load.
As expected, and because the Samsung washer has a bigger capacity, it has higher energy and water consumption compared to the LG washing machine. However, this ENERGY STAR model suggests higher energy and cost savings and also has a slightly higher water saving percentage. This is because the Samsung washer has a higher modified energy factor of 2.8 against 2.6 for the LG model, as well as a lower water factor of 3.2 against 3.7, which emphasizes more energy and water efficiencies.
Here are the Samsung electricity usage and energy savings as the number of households participating increases:
Here are the Samsung water usage and savings as the number of householdss participating increases:
For a better illustration, the information in these tables is presented in graphs as follows:
The following graph summarizes the net cost savings and total cost savings of the Samsung washer.
The purpose of this analysis is to compare the Samsung washer to the LG washer by looking at water and energy efficiencies. We will use the savings calculator for ENERGY STAR qualified appliances in order to do this. For a fair comparison, we make sure that we use the same electricity and water rates used in the first analysis of the LG machine. We will also go with the same number of machines. Accordingly, we considered the following inputs and assumptions:
In order to calculate the additional purchase price and input it in the savings calculator along with the above parameters, we needed to know the price of the machine with which the ENERGY STAR washer was compared in our previous maximization and scalability analysis. However, this information was not made clear in our past records, and this particular portion of our research was completed in 2023. This calculation is critical for finding the payback period as well as the total cost savings. To resolve this, we decided to go with one of the conventional washers that was named in the original research documents – the Whirlpool WTW5000DW that today (2023) costs $529.99 at Best Buy. This price would be our comparison price, which implies an additional price of 190$ for one appliance. The results of our analysis can be found in the table below.
As we can see in this table, the net cost savings for one household is $230. This means that switching to this Energy Star residential washer is beneficial even for 1 household, which was not the case for the LG washer. By switching to this specific model of residential washer, electricity and water savings for one household are not very significant but increase exponentially as a community becomes larger. For a 500 household community, electricity savings exceeds 128,000 kWh, water savings reach 999,180 gallons, and cost savings exceeds $23,000. CO2 emissions reduction is also very significant for larger communities, exceeding 198,000 pounds for a 500 household community. Net cost savings on the other hand, reaches a drastic number of $202,228 for the largest community.
In the laundry market, there are emerging technologies and many commercial products being advertised as “eco-laundry”, energy-saving, water-saving or cost-efficient. Although we lack critical information on these products to properly integrate them into our comparison model, we would like to include them in our research to drive the market and our community towards a more sustainable future. Here is an example of the Milnor RinSave washer. The table provided by Milnor shows their electricity and water savings compared with a standard washer.
As the capacity grows up from 40 lbs per load to 160 lbs per load, the total cost for two laundry washers only doubles. The saving potential of eco-laundry compared to a standard washer also goes up from 12.10% to 13.02%, indicating there is still an economy of scale for large-capacity eco-laundry.
And if we further consider combining with the highest good community model, after taking off the effect of labor cost, the percentage of savings is even greater compared to a standard washer: from 13.78% to 13.86% as the capacity grows from 40 lbs per load to 160 lbs per load. Shown below are annual sewer, water heating, and labor costs for standard and commercial washers. Click the images to open the open source spreadsheet and head to row 70.
As capacity grows, labor costs (orange) are taking a smaller percentage in the total costs, whereas water costs (yellow) and water heating fuel costs (pink) are going up. The labor costs for 160 lbs capacity only take about 30% of the total costs, dropping from 60% when the capacity is ¼ of the largest washer.
Note: When we re-do our eco-laundry research, this section will be expanded. Given better availability of information on new and emerging eco-laundry technologies, we will further explore them as potential purchasing options.
In order to maximize the scalability and meet the washing needs for our sustainable community, we searched for more commercial and industrial laundry brands and compared their utility use. We reached out to various companies and both the brands Dexter and Xeros provided us with their water usage data. Xeros has an average usage of 32.9 gallons/cycle, which is a huge water saving compared with Milnor data we collected (Milnor has 2 gal/lb of water usage estimate for all its capacity models, i.e. a 40-lb washer has 80 gal/cycle water usage). The problem, however, is that we don’t know which Xeros model is analyzed in this data. If we assume the machine capacity to be 90 lbs as the brochures we were sent mentioned, the annual water usage is only 5080.9 gal/year. As it didn’t specify the model and the capacity, we simulated the most popular sizes (20, 40, 60 and 80 lbs) for water usage (table below) assuming they all have an average usage of 32.9 gal/cycle. To give you a quick comparison, the residential front-loading ENERGY STAR washer has an annual water usage of 11,119 gal/year. So if the Xeros data works for models over 40 lbs, then it is the most water-efficient washer.
For Dexter, we have more specific water use per cycle data for each capacity sizes. Coin washers use less water than OPL washers. The most water-efficient one is T-450 (30lbs) model for Dexter Coin washers. It certainly performs better compared with the other Dexter washers and is comparable with the front-loading ENERGY STAR washer in terms of its water performance.
Comparing with our baseline calculation, both Dexter and Xeros achieve or go beyond the current best water saving laundry design.
Therefore, Xeros’ industrial laundry saves about half of annual water consumption by allowing a larger capacity in one load. However, we still need to research electricity consumption and savings as well as costs for Xeros’ machine. It is possible that the electricity, water, and cost savings could be better than our currently selected machine and if so, we will update One Community’s plans for eco-laundry. We will continue to expand this section as we conduct this research, which will include similar analyses as those we have already completed for residential and commercial washers.
Now that we have an understanding of the best eco-laundry washing practices and machines, we will explore eco-laundry drying in the following sections:
Laundry line drying is well-known as very environmentally advantageous as it uses sunlight as a direct source of energy for drying clothes. This means that no investment in expensive drying systems is needed and further, drying clothes will not contribute to your electricity or gas bills. It is estimated that you can save 10 to 20% on utility bills by not using a dryer. This method is also more gentle on fabrics than heat dryers, which by prolonging the life of your clothes, ultimately saves you more money in the long run.
The primary reason why a consumer would opt to use a dryer instead is to save time. Loading and unloading clothes from your machine is typically thought of as easier and faster than line drying, but it only takes about 8 minutes to hang up your laundry. However, laundry line drying does eventually take more time than modern machine drying options. The process can take a minimum of 4 hours for your clothes to dry entirely, depending on how sunny or windy the day is. Another constraint to consider is space. In order to expose your clothes to direct sunlight, you would need an accessible outdoor space. Further, this process is directly dependent on weather conditions, so monitoring the weather and scheduling your line drying accordingly is a must. The following table summarizes advantages and disadvantages of the laundry clothes line.
Using a laundry line to dry your clothes implies that you’re giving up one of the most energy consuming appliances in your household. This change has the power to save a lot of energy, especially with larger population scales. The U.S. is known to have the highest percentage of clothes dryer use (around 80% of the population). We will now investigate potential energy savings of laundry lines in the U.S. To do so, we consider the following constraints:
When it comes to switching to a laundry line for one household, energy and cost sayings might not be very significant, but as household number increases these grow exponentially. One household can save at least 168kWh of energy per year. The following table summarizes the energy and cost savings of laundry line use for increasing community sizes.
When taking these findings to an even larger scale, energy and cost savings become tremendously large. The following numbers summarize the annual cost and energy savings that would be achieved if the entire United States population switched to line drying their laundry.
By switching to the laundry clothes line, the U.S can save up to 0.37% of its annual energy consumption, and prevents 5.53 Mt of co2 from being released into nature.
To choose the best dryer option, a good start is to compare the two major categories of clothes dryers – gas and electric. To do so, we complete comparisons that tackle the following major aspects:
To compare the energy efficiencies of electric and gas dryers, we have chosen the most energy efficient ENERGY STAR dryers according to CEF values in both categories. The data presented shows that ENERGY STAR electric dryers consume much less energy compared to ENERGY STAR gas dryers. The most efficient electric dryer would consume 236 kWh per year, while the most efficient gas dryer would consume around 680 kWh per year. However, although the gas dryer is said to consume 3 times of what the electric dryer does, if we take into consideration the energy losses that happen for electricity to reach your house, gas and electric dryers consume almost the same amount of energy.
The vast majority of electricity produced today comes from power plants that burn fossil fuels to liberate energy. During the processes of electricity production and distribution, energy losses occur and almost 70% of the initial energy in the fossil fuel is lost. Consequently, using a primary source of energy such as gas is a way to eliminate energy losses and fully take advantage of the source’s energy potential. The following figure summarizes the energy losses for an electric and a gas dryer.
The following table summarizes our energy consumption comparison between electric and gas dryers.
As we can see, there is no huge difference between the two energy consumptions considering all energy losses. However, there is a considerable capacity difference and the larger capacity gas dryer still consumes less energy than the smaller capacity electricity dryer. It is therefore clear that a gas dryer is typically more energy-efficient than an electric dryer because little to no energy losses are associated with this type of dryer. However, it is essential to note that these energy losses are only associated with non-renewable energy production and distribution, which means that if electricity is extracted from renewable resources the process does not have these same losses.
To compare between cost efficiencies of electric and gas dryers, we focus on the following parameters: Operating cost, maintenance cost, purchase cost, and performance. We chose two models that are exactly the same, but one is using electricity and the other is using gas: UniMac UT-120.
We relied on the data presented in the fuel cost calculator to convert energy consumption into cost. The following table summarizes our results.
As observed, a gas dryer is about 50% cheaper to run but requires an initial installation cost. A gas dryer will also cost more to repair than an electric one.
Nowadays, electric dryers are more common than gas dryers, but both have a negative effect on the environment and contribute to pollution particularly in the form of CO2 emissions. This is why it is so important to know how much energy your dryer truly consumes as the energy consumption reveals its impact on the environment.
Producing electric energy emits masses of CO2 emissions that are negatively impacting our planet. An electric dryer can emit 3.96lbs (1.8kgs) of CO2 per run. Gas dryers on the other hand, generally produce less emissions than electric dryers, with about 60% less carbon dioxide. Gas turbines generate less CO2 because of their use of a primary energy source which avoids the efficiency losses of electric dryers.
Despite the fact that gas dryers are more energy-efficient, it is critical to consider the sustainability of gas and electricity as energy sources in the evaluation of dryers on the market. As far as sustainability goes, gas is a non-renewable resource of which its extraction and consumption causes significant environmental harm. Further, if we run out of natural gas, which is an event that is predicted to happen around 2060, we will no longer be able to use gas dryers, but electric dryers will survive. Although today electricity is often generated with non-renewable resources, there is the option to generate it using renewable resources like wind, solar, and more. Renewable energy is becoming increasingly available and accessible as the world undergoes the green transition. As a result, more and more electric dryers can be switched to renewable energy sources, making them the more sustainable option.
Based on the findings of this comparison between electric and gas dryers, we can conclude that while gas dryers are cheaper to run and emit less CO2 into the atmosphere, gas is not a sustainable source of energy and gas dryers will very likely not survive in the near future. We therefore recommend going with electric dryers in choosing the best dryer option available in the market.
As previously discussed in the eco-laundry washer sections, ENERGY STAR is a program that focuses on sustainability and energy efficiencies of various products and devices. Its label indicates a product as having met specific requirements to be ENERGY STAR rated. In this section, we will discuss what an ENERGY STAR certified dryer can guarantee over a conventional dyer.
ENERGY STAR dryers have some really innovative features and technologies that enable at least 20% of energy savings compared to conventional dryer models. Some ENERGY STAR models have sensors that stop the drying process when the clothes are dry in order to avoid any additional running time. This both saves energy and prolongs the life of clothes by protecting them from the damages of excessive heat. Another innovative technology that some ENERGY STAR dryers use is the energy saving heat pump technology. This feature recycles the air flow by getting rid of the moisture and heating the fluid that is used to dry clothes. By that, the wasted warmth that is released by a conventional dryer can be saved. The energy saving heat pump technology can save up to 35% of your energy consumption, and therefore, lowers your utility bill.
By using an ENERGY STAR dryer, you can save:
A conventional dryer can be divided into two main categories: electric dryer and gas dryer. Nowadays, electric dryers are more common than gas dryers, but they both have negative effects on the environment and contribute to pollution, particularly in the form of CO2 emissions.
On average across the US, non-renewable electricity sources emit 0.818 lbs of CO2 per kWh. So, the CO2 emission of an electric dryer is directly related to the amount of energy consumed by the dryer. An ENERGY STAR certified dryer uses at least 20% less energy, and therefore produces 20% less CO2 (about 3.16lb or 1.44kgs). Specifically, an ENERGY STAR gas dryer would produce 60% less CO2 than an electric ENERGY STAR dryer. The following figure summarizes CO2 emissions for both conventional and ENERGY STAR laundry dryers.
The results we got for CO2 emissions are only valid when using a non-renewable energy source for electricity production. According to the U.S Energy Information Administration (EIA), solar energy technologies and power plants do not produce air pollution or greenhouse gasses when operating. Using solar energy can have a positive, indirect effect on the environment when solar energy replaces or reduces the use of non-renewable energy sources. Wind is also one of the most rapidly growing renewable energy sources. Wind turbines have 20% to 40% efficiency in converting wind into energy and the lifespan of a wind turbine is about 20 years, with maintenance needed about every 6 months. Hydroelectric plants are another growing renewable energy source and are the most efficient means of producing electricity, with an efficiency that can reach 90%.
Here we have calculated the savings over the life of an ENERGY STAR dryer.
Another important distinction in dryer types is between commercial and residential dryers. Commercial dryers differ from residential dryers in that they typically have larger cylinder sizes, higher airflow, and higher BTU rating, all of which help to reduce the drying time and increase efficiency of the laundry process. However, there are different technologies on the market that dictate the performance of a dryer and this creates a diversity of dryer options. As One Community focuses on sustainability and preserving resources, we consider a comparison of energy consumption between these dryer categories in order to effectively evaluate which choice, residential or commercial dryers, is best for our eco-laundry community model.
Now that we have a general idea on how much we can save using an ENERGY STAR dryer, we will search and compare between the best residential gas and electricity dryer options available in the market. To do so, we consider the following guidelines:
A dryer’s CEF is calculated by dividing the load size (lb) by the total energy used to dry a load. The higher the energy used to dry the load, the lower CEF. A low CEF therefore reflects low energy-efficiency and a high CEF reflects high energy-efficiency.
Here is our selection of the best ENERGY STAR and conventional residential dryers:
After careful review of the options above, we observed the following:
Taking this into account, we will use the Insignia-NS-FDRE44W1 as our residential dryer in this analysis.
As previously mentioned, commercial dryers usually have larger drying cylinder sizes, higher airflow, and higher BTU ratings. To investigate the best electric commercial dryers available in the market, we look at the best selling options on Best Buy. We also ensure that these dryers have the commercial merchandise label, mentioned in the specifications section on Best Buy. In this comparison we only consider options that are not paired with a washer
The two options we ended up with are:
The following table compares between these two options regarding energy consumption, capacity and price.
As observed, both models have the same energy consumption. Considering the volumetric capacity and price, we will use the Whirlpool-CEM2745FQ as our commercial dryer in this analysis.
According to previous findings on the best options from each category (residential and commercial), these are the models we have selected for our analysis:
The following table summarizes the most important specifications of these two models for comparison purposes.
As can be seen, there is a big difference in the volumetric capacity which reflects the load size that each dryer can take. The commercial dryer is definitely advantageous when it comes to the capacity consideration. There is also a large difference between the two energy consumptions. However, our main focus here is to compare energy efficiencies, meaning we must evaluate which of these options uses the least amount of energy for the most capacity.
A simple approach is to divide the volumetric capacity by the energy consumption. The two values we get are: 1.321 for the commercial dryer and 5.5 for the residential dryer. These numbers show that the residential dryer is more energy efficient than the commercial dryer. In other words, the volumetric capacity of the commercial dryer is almost double the residential one, but the energy consumption is approximately multiplied by 5. According to our research, this makes sense because the ENERGY STAR residential option uses the energy saving heat pump technology. Energy savings of this technology can reach 60% compared with a conventional dryer. This analysis shows that the Insignia-NS-FDRE44W1 dryer is our best option thus far.
Heat pump technology is what makes this model, Insignia-NS-FDRE44W1, very energy-efficient. This technology is the latest development in the appliance market and guarantees the reduction of energy use by at least 28%. It is also well rated and has good customer feedback. Potential cost and energy savings of this specific model are presented earlier on this page. A heat pump dryer absorbs water from your laundry through the drum. This flow then goes to an evaporator which removes the moisture. The same air is then reheated and sent again to the same cycle. This innovation ensures that heated air is not wasted like in a conventional dryer, but rather is injected again to be re-used in the same laundry load. Let’s take a look at some advantages and disadvantages of this technology.
As observed, a downfall of this technology is that it takes a little more time to dry your clothes. However, heat pump dryer’s most significant advantages are reducing cost and energy use which arguably outweigh the cons. Heat pump dryers take 69 and 90 mins to complete the drying process, but have the highest CEF values (8 to 11). For vented dryers, the drying process is between 50 and 69 minutes, but the CEF values are the lowest. The following graph represents some heat pump technology models along with vented models to emphasize the differences in the combined energy factor (energy-efficiency parameter), and the cycle time (duration of the drying process).
As reported, our choice selection ended with an ENERGY STAR electric residential dryer that will be used for our maximization and scalability analysis. This analysis will compare the savings of using this dryer for 1 household with those of a 5, 50, 100 and 500 household community to see the cost and energy-saving potentials for larger groups. The chosen model is:
However, before conducting our analysis, we must consider whether the CEF metric is the only aspect we should consider in our dryer choice. CEF only considers load size and energy consumption, but when taking into consideration the number of household members one needs to additionally consider capacity. Two dryers can have the same CEF value, but to argue which options suit your needs better, you must evaluate the frequency of use. Upon this level of our analysis, we’re dealing with households and communities. The most energy-efficient dryer available in the market can save you a lot but as our choice does, may have a compact size and therefore might not be the best option for a household of 4 members. To investigate, we calculate the energy consumption for a 4.5 and a 7.8 cubic ft dryer for a 4 member household. For this we consider the following constraints:
Below is a table that summarizes our results:
*Note: Both dryers use heat pump technology
As observed, the 4.4 cu ft dryer has a higher CEF, but it turns out that it consumes the same amount of energy as the 7.8 cu ft dryer. The idea here is not to rely on CEF only to choose a suitable dryer but to also consider capacity based on the number of household members. By that, you can reduce your running time and the frequency of loading and unloading your dryer.
For the maximization and scalability analysis, and because our primary concern is energy efficiency, we chose to stick with the compact dryer. There is no difference in energy consumption between the two options and because the 7.8 cu ft dryer is paired with a washer, this option is less ideal (as explored later).
To calculate energy and cost savings, we choose to compare between our best energy efficient choice (Insignia-NS-FDRE44W1) and a conventional dryer with the same capacity. For the conventional dryer, we have chosen the GE® 24″ 4.3 Cu.Ft. Front Load Vented Electric Dryer with Stainless Steel Basket. Since the Insignia model uses the heat pump technology, it will take longer to dryer your clothes: 50% more time compared to a conventional dryer.
After calculating energy consumption for the ENERGY STAR and conventional dryers both with the same capacity, we summarize the savings of the Insignia-NS-FDRE44W1 dryer compared to the GE – GF D14ESSN dryer in the following table.
In order to analyze the energy and cost savings potentials for larger groups, we must first identify how many dryers will be needed for different community sizes. We can do this by considering the maximum dryer capacity and the frequency of use by each household. Since a heat pump dryer takes longer to dry your clothes, we assume that the cycle time is 2 hours. Assume that a dryer is used in daylight time only (12 hours a day). Accordingly we get a maximum of 6 x 365 = 2190 loads per year from one machine. Similar to the washer use frequency, if 5 households dry 1500 loads per year, one machine is needed. Further, if 50 households dry 15000 loads per year, 7 dryers are needed. 100 households need 14 dryers and 500 households need 70 dryers.
Now that we have the energy and cost savings of one household, we can look at potential savings for larger groups. The following table summarizes our findings.
As the table shows, the net cost savings increases drastically as the community size increases. It multiplies by 7 when we move from 1 household to 5 households, and by 10 from 5 to 10 households. The idea is that the larger the community is, the more we are able to save. Additionally, the payback period for one household is more than 4 years, but is steady at one year for all larger community groups at and past the size of 5 households. This is another metric that privileges the power of a community on saving cost. The net cost savings is always positive for all households. This is because the equipment lifetime is larger than a conventional dryer, which amplifies the lifetime savings and thus creates room for more potential savings. The following graph summarizes the energy and cost savings of an ENERGY STAR dryer over an increasing number of households.
As we can see in the graph, the energy and cost savings grow exponentially as the community gets larger. For a 500 households community, cost savings exceeds $30,000 annually.
Since a dryer typically consumes a lot of energy compared to other electronic appliances, it catches the attention of researchers that are thinking of other solutions for the clothes drying process. One of the most important emerging projects is the ultrasonic clothes dryer. The ultrasonic dryer uses vibrations, or transducers, to shake the water out of clothes instead of using heat. These transducers vibrate at a high frequency, turning water into a cold mist. The ultrasonic dryer is up to 5 times more efficient than today’s conventional dryers. It also cuts drying time in half and leaves behind very little lint. The technology was developed by the Oak Ridge National Library and GE Appliances with support from the Department of Energy, hoping to help save consumers money and energy. This improvement can result in primary energy savings technical potential for 280TBtu for the 2030 energy market in all climate zones. The first prototype design project ended in 2020 and the technology is still under construction. As a result, this will probably take some time to hit the market. We will update this page with developments on this technology as they come.
SoCalGas and the Gas Technology Institute are collaborating to build a natural gas-driven highly efficient thermo-vacuum clothes dryer – a new gas saving technology for commercial dryers. This is intended to reduce the drying time up to 10 times and increase the longevity of clothes, lasting up to 5 times longer. Annual savings using this new technology can reach $2.5 billion. This highly effective drying system uses an ejector-based approach to create a dynamic vacuum inside the drying chamber that accelerates moisture removal. Other benefits of this drying method include simple design, low maintenance, high durability and low operating costs. This technology did not hit the market yet, and the proof of concept feasibility study was completed in October 2019. We will update this page with developments on this technology as they come.
To answer the question of whether industrial drying is more energy efficient, we choose to compare our winning ENERGY STAR residential dryer, Insignia-NS-FDRE44W1, with a 120 lb capacity industrial dryer: UniMac-UT120. This industrial dryer was chosen because UniMac is one of the best known brands for energy-efficient industrial laundry products. This specific dryer is their largest electric tumble dryer. The following table summarizes our findings.
Based on these numbers, we observe that the industrial dryer takes 75 times the energy consumption of a residential dryer, with a volumetric capacity that is just 8 times the residential dryer. This proves that the ENERGY STAR residential electric dryer is the most energy-efficient option on the market today.
We created our cost comparison between non-ENERGY STAR and ENERGY STAR certified washing machines based on the knowledge of market sales and product information available in 2016. In our selection of the representative for each washing type (top-loading or front-loading, residential or commercial, ENERGY STAR or non-ENERGY STAR) we do not have a strict rule for a clear definition of what the “best” is, or a perfect candidate for every single different category. As a matter of fact, there really is no best or perfect here. Each machine has different specifications, energy and water ratings, durability, and price. So instead, we chose data from different online websites based on their purchase popularity and user reviews. However, there are people who bought washing machines directly from a retailer store who also consider other factors besides price or energy rating as priority in their selection, such as machine size, design (outlook), color or other specific features.
In our analysis, we mainly focused on the U.S. average data or forecast data (utility rates, discount rates, washing loads per year, etc.). However, the calculation results may vary with a lot of factors, such as different locations, utility contracts signed by individual households or communities, or the changing utility rates across time. We also made assumptions on customer purchasing preference, average household washing loads, and number of washing hours, which could be significantly different from household to household.
One Community will grow beyond 500 people. As we’ve shown, the resource and monetary savings are huge for groups of this size and we intend to demonstrate how convenient large-scale eco-laundry can be. We’ll share our graphs and images summarizing our findings and limitations, detail our action plan moving forward, and discuss what is possible within the following sections:
Knowing that our analysis is a simulation to find the optimal solution for a sustainable community, we do encourage you to create your own calculation based on your own washing machine choices or usage assumptions. You can use this calculation to see how you can make a difference with changing your washing behavior (such as less washing loads) or make a choice such as purchasing a more efficient washing machine. If you are interested, please go to Running Your Own Calculation for more detail.
Based on our research, we have come to the following conclusions: conventional machines use more energy per load than ENERGY STAR machines, front-loading machines are more efficient than top-loading machines, and commercial washers are only slightly more energy-efficient than residential washers.
The same applies for water, but residential ENERGY STAR washers outperform commercial ENERGY STAR washers for water.
Note: Below we’ll discuss how to radically improve commercial energy and water savings far beyond any residential option.
Then, using the most energy-efficient ENERGY STAR commercial washer (LG-GCWF 1069**#), we calculated how much the annual energy savings increase would be when these washers are used by larger and larger groups.
We did the same with the annual savings increases for water when these washers are used by larger and larger groups.
We also calculated the total savings in dollars over the life cycle of this machine when used by larger and larger groups.
In our selection for the optimal laundry strategy, we made assumptions and chose some of the products as a representative for the market.
Here are our assumptions:
Using these assumptions, here is our water and electricity comparison between ENERGY STAR residential front-loading and ENERGY STAR commercial washer (annual consumption) for 1, 5, 50, 100 and 500 households (assuming 2.5 people per household).
Here is the Land Use Comparison for one machine (assuming 2.5 people per household).
One Community will implement a flexibility strategy to ensure that our capacity for eco-laundry grows as our community size increases. Initially we will purchase 8 of our selected machine and use these until we reach maximum capacity. As we grow, out strategy is simple: We will buy and add more machines as we need them. This will allow us to continue to install the most efficient machine as our community expands. If future research finds an even better machine than the one we have chosen and installed thus far, then we will purchase the better machine for any future needed additions.
When it comes to dryers, the same flexibility strategy as chosen for washers can be implemented. We will start by purchasing 7 dryers, which will continuously be maintained and repaired as needed. As One Community grows, more dryers will be purchased to fulfill the needs of all households in accordance with the growing community size.
One Community’s plan for long-term maximization and scalability is designed to be timeless. As mentioned in our flexibility strategy, we will start out our eco-laundry by purchasing 8 of our selected machine. We will maintain and repair them as needed and will continue to buy and add machines as we grow. We will add tutorials to this section as well as further research as we learn from our experience of implementing this strategy.
As for dryers, our long-term plan works similarly to that of washers. We will begin with our initial purchase of 7 dryers and will add to this as we grow.
Our long-term maximization and scalability strategy also includes our plans for effectively and efficiently carrying out weekly laundry for the community. Our plan involves a cooperative approach as part of our Community Contribution. On laundry day, residents and guests at One Community will place their laundry in front of their homes in laundry bags to be picked up and taken to our eco-laundry facilities on a towed trailer attached to an electric golf cart. Everyone’s laundry will then be washed, dried, and folded by the kitchen team and other available members in the area that day. After dinner, people will pick up their clean clothes. This plan will allow us to have just a handful of people handle laundry efficiently for the entire community.
To ensure that different household’s laundry don’t end up mixing together, we will use laundry bags for each individual load. Since different types of clothes often need different kinds of laundry treatments, households will also organize their loads into special bags for special washing and drying types (cold wash, delicates, low heat, etc.). These bags will go directly into the washers and dryers according to their treatment needs. This method will allow for separate household loads to be done at the same time.
Option 1: Durability Prioritized
For our laundry bags purchase, our choice should be able to carry clothes during both washing and drying processes and be highly durable. Searching on Amazon, we considered the best rated and large size options. One option had a very high durability rating (4.7/5), a commercial mesh laundry bag made of sturdy TA97 polyester mesh material that comes in a fairly large size (24” x 36”). This material is strong and allows for items to breathe, which keeps dampness and odors away. This material is also heavy-duty and sustains the heat of a dryer. It is also very easy to use, is sold at a fairly cheap price of $8.49 (2023), and has very good customer reviews.
While all of these pros for this choice exist, we must acknowledge that Nylon derives from petroleum and sometimes other wastes, including plastic. This unsustainable material releases microplastics into the water supply, which makes this type of laundry bag environmentally harmful. For that, we sought out an eco-friendly option as an alternative.
Option 2: Eco Friendliness Prioritized
To investigate eco-friendly options, we chose to browse the Etsy market using the key word “laundry bag”. We sorted our findings by customer reviews and focused on the mesh laundry bags only. Size and material of the product are the two important criteria in making a final choice. The laundry bag should be suitable enough to carry the load of a whole family and made from an eco-friendly material. After careful search, one option caught our attention: an organic cotton laundry bag by the small California-based business, SimpleEcology.
This alternative is made of a completely natural material, organic cotton, which is biodegradable and is made through environmentally friendly production processes that are free of any chemicals, fertilizers, or pesticides. Its production also uses less water, preserves soil quality, and limits soil erosion. The largest available size of this product is the XLarge (20” x 24”), which although is slightly smaller than our previous option, is still very convenient for a large family. However, this laundry bag is more expensive than option 1, costing $19.95 for two XL bags (2023). This price difference is due to the costs associated with the production of organic cotton and because this product is handmade.
Durability: Nylon vs Organic Cotton
It is critical to consider the estimated lifespan of both of these options as depending on frequency of use, nylon and organic cotton have different expected durability. When it comes to a laundry bag that will be used on a weekly basis and is intended to endure the heat of both a washer and dryer, we expect a large reduction of lifespan for both materials. Nylon is generally recognized as a very durable material and would be expected to hold up for several years with this kind of usage (minimum of 3 years). On the other hand, the organic cotton laundry bag will likely last much less time. Garments that are made of this biodegradable material usually last from 2 to 5 years, but taking into consideration frequency and conditions of use, we expect a lifespan around 2 years. Given this information, the organic cotton laundry bag is both more expensive and less durable than the nylon bag. Ultimately, a final decision on bag choice comes down to whether you should seek to minimize costs or environmental damage.
When starting out with this research, we had assumed that commercial ENERGY STAR washers would be the best option for our eco-laundry plans. At this time we were also prioritizing energy savings over all else. However, water savings and other considerations have moved up in our priorities. The overall comparisons between the LG and Samsung washers revealed to us something we were not expecting.
While we initially thought that commercial ENERGY STAR machines would be the best option for eco-laundry washers, our comparison showed that residential ENERGY STAR machines are better overall. If you want to prioritize electricity savings then you can opt to stick with our suggested commercial machine (LG – GCWF1069**#).
In this section, we will investigate whether a washer and dryer pair are a more efficient option than using individual appliances. We compare our two chosen separate washer and dryer options from our eco-laundry research with some ENERGY STAR paired washers and dryers. These models are:
For this comparison, we consider Integrated Modified Energy Factor (IMEF) and Integrated Water Factor (IWF) for washers, and the Combined Energy Factor (CEF) for dryers. For our paired choices, we picked one pair according to the highest CEF dryer, another pair according to the highest IMEF washer, and a final pair according to the lowest IWF washer. The following table presents our selection options.
Ultimately, having a laundry pair with a high energy and water efficiency washer (high IMEF and low IWF) usually does not coincide with having an efficient dryer (high CEF) in the same pair. If a pair has one of the most energy efficient dryers, the washer from that pair is not the best energy and water efficient machine. Since our work focus is on finding and using the most efficient washer and dryer options, it is better to go with individual appliances. Moreover, washer and dryer pairs might also present more complicated maintenance problems. If a washer is broken down, the dryer will also not work until you fix the problem. However, a washer and dryer pair might be advantageous if you have limited space in your laundry area.
Given the discovery that the residential ENERGY STAR front-loading machine out-competes the commercial front-loading ENERGY STAR machine in water savings, cost savings, CO2 reductions, capacity and yearly loads, we have chosen to go with the Samsung – 4.2 Cu. Ft. 8-Cycle Front-Loading Washer. We will be updating this choice again when we re-do our research before finalizing our purchasing decisions.
As we have concluded from our research, ENERGY STAR dryers are considered the most efficient options in the market. More specifically, electric dryers are more sustainable than gas dryers. So, our choice is to go with an ENERGY STAR residential electric dryer. For our dryer, we have chosen the Insignia-NS-FDRE44W1 (link to purchase). We may update this selection before making our final purchase decision.
Come back to this page in the future to see our final washer and dryer decisions, and for more up-to-date research on the best eco-laundry technologies available.
In our analysis, we not only researched for the best eco-laundry options in the existing market, we also built a comparison tool that can help individuals make their own decisions in choosing the most sustainable laundry products.
We understand that different times, locations, and/or households’ purchasing preferences can all hugely influence the results. As we have mentioned above, we only chose the most representative or best-selling washing machines for each different machine type. We also mainly focused on the US average data or forecast data (water, electricity rate, additional purchasing cost, discount rate, etc.) using assumptions based on average household washing loads, which could be significantly different across time and households. We therefore encourage you to generate your own calculation, with your specific assumptions, to see how much money and resources you or your community can save by making the decision to purchase a more efficient washing machine.
If you have updated information on certain products or different opinions from ours, such as washing machine selection or loads per week, you are welcome to run your own calculation by following the simple tutorial below. Our website provides you with the exact same calculator we used in building our comparison model. Any user can change or modify the key assumptions or inputs so that they are tailored to your own preferences on washing frequency, washers, or washing type. Please visit the Interactive Tool Tutorial below.
To get you quickly familiar with the Savings Calculator, here is a simple demonstration of how it works:
1. Start with choosing your washer’s type of use (“Residential” or “Commercial”) and your location.
After you have done this, the utility rates will automatically apply as follows.
2. Type in the specifications of your chosen machine, such as average number of loads per week, washer capacity, IMEF/MEF or IWF/WF.
3. You can also use the default to show our assumptions for the residential and commercial clothes washers.
4. After filling out the inputs in the calculator, you can scroll down to the green-highlighted cells in the savings estimate table or to the annual energy & water consumption table for a detailed review.
Using our assumptions above, any user can calculate the washing loads per year for each different washing machine you choose. Take the commercial front-loading LG-GCWF1069 (Capacity = 3.7 cu. ft.) as an example:
Average commercial washing loads = 1241 loads/year for an average of 2.8 cu.ft.-capacity washer. If we assume that 1 cu.ft. can hold 4 lbs of clothes on average, then the average washing clothes weight = 1241*2.8*4 lbs/year = 13899 lbs/year.
For our chosen machine, the washing loads = 13899/4/3.7 loads/year = 939 loads/year.
Since purchasing each additional washer would add extra costs to the model, we assume the washer could run at capacity. Assuming each washer can run from 8 am – 8 pm (12hrs/day) and each washing cycle is roughly 1 hour, we can get maximum of 12*365 = 4380 loads/year (~4000 loads/year) for one machine. So if one household washes 295 loads/year (~300 loads/year), five households wash approximately 1500 loads/year and only need one machine altogether. Similarly, fifty households wash approximately 15000 loads/year and need 4 washers.
As we continue to develop our research and apply it in our site development, we will share our processes and everything we learn here. This section will be expanded to eventually include One Community’s complete permitted plans, downloadable 3-D Sketchups and CAD files, instructional videos covering the entire installation and maintenance process, and more.
High-capacity laundry machines are more cost effective, save water resources, and use less chemicals. One Community is designing an open source eco-laundry facility to provide plans, all needed installation details, maintenance details, etc., so people can effectively evaluate this option for their own needs. In so doing, we hope to promote and grow the eco-laundry industry as part of our approach to living and creating for The Highest Good of All.
Q: What is ENERGY STAR?
The Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR program is a voluntary energy conservation movement to save energy and protect the climate. Since its beginning in 1992, the ENERGY STAR program has helped identify and promote national energy efficiency in household appliances (clothes washers and dryers, refrigerators, etc.), building products (residential windows, doors, roof products, seal and insulate), lighting, electronics (audio/video, cable, telephones and TVs), office equipment (computers, data center storage, enterprise servers, monitors, etc.), water heaters, and heating and cooling systems.
As of 2023, ENERGY STAR has recognized the most efficient and innovative products for clothes washing machines and more. Click the icon here to visit the website for product information.
Q: How to calculate MEF/IMEF and WF/IWF for washing machines? And what do these attributes represent?
Modified Energy Factor (MEF) is the energy performance metric for ENERGY STAR certified commercial clothes washing machines,
MEF = C/(M+E=D)
Where C is the quotient of the capacity of the clothes container, M is the machine electrical energy for the mechanical action of a cycle, E is the hot water energy consumption, and D is the energy required for removal of the remaining moisture in a washing cycle.
Integrated Modified Energy Factor (IMEF) is the energy performance for ENERGY STAR certified residential clothes washing machines.
IMEF = C/(M+E+D+L)
Where L is the combined low-power mode energy consumption, C is the quotient of the capacity of the clothes container, M is the machine electrical energy for the mechanical action of a cycle, E is the hot water energy consumption, and D is the the energy required for removal of the remaining moisture in a washing cycle.
Higher MEF/IMEF indicates greater energy efficiency. Both MEF and IMEF are calculated in the unit of ft3/kWh/cycle.
Water Consumption Factor (WF) is the water performance metric for commercial clothes washing machines,
WF = Q/C
Where Q is the quotient of the total weighted per-cycle water consumption for the cold wash, and C is the capacity of the clothes washer.
Integrated Water Factor (IWF) is the water performance metric for residential clothes washing machines.
IWF = QA/C
Where QA is the quotient of the total weighted per-cycle water consumption for all wash cycles, and C is the capacity of the clothes washer.
Lower WF/IWF means greater water efficiency in a washing cycle.
Q: Where was your data sourced from? How did you develop your savings calculations?
Our researcher for this page, Jinxi Feng (Environmental Consultant), invested hundreds of hours into collecting data and developing the analyses and conclusions presented on this page. Her sources range from online websites, articles, and databases, as well as email correspondence with various washing machine companies. Much of these sources are linked in our Resources section, but summaries of all the data used on this webpage can be found in our open source Eco-Laundry Comparison Spreadsheet. Her calculations were developed using our savings calculator, that was inspired by the Savings Calculator for ENERGY STAR Qualified Appliances.
Note on data: The research for the laundry washers portion of this page was completed in 2017. Our calculations are based on an industry that is constantly evolving and traditional models are not as bad as they used to be. We encourage you to use our savings calculator to compare your washing machine with that of our chosen baseline machine, LG – GCWF 1069**#, and to reach out to us if you find a newer machine that exceeds the sustainability and savings of this one.
Q: Why not use a gas dryer?
100% sustainable energy infrastructure is one of the main goals of our project. Initially we started out with some gas-powered equipment to reduce the startup costs for energy infrastructure. Then we made the decision to go 100% electric so we wouldn’t have to replace gas appliances later.
Q: How will you keep people’s laundry separate when doing combined loads?
Laundry will be kept separate using washable laundry bags like this.
Q: What about washing laundry by hand?
This is totally doable but probably not practical for groups as large as 300. In our case, even if it were practical, we’d rather invest those labor resources in more open source content creation as we feel this is more in accordance with our approach to global transformation and will have a more dramatic affect on global longevity and ecology. Here’s a great video on washing laundry by hand though: