How much water does a washing machine use? A small overview

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If you want to buy a new washing machine, you should always take a close look at the water consumption in addition to the energy efficiency. Here you can find out how much water a washing machine uses on average, how to recognize the consumption and why new purchases are often worthwhile.

The energy efficiency class is now known to almost everyone as a benchmark for the economy of household appliances such as washing machines and can be read at a glance thanks to the EU energy label. For example, if a washing machine has been awarded energy efficiency class B, it is one of the more economical examples – the most economical class is currently A.

In the EcoTopTen criteria of the Öko-Institut we recommend energy efficiency classes D or better for appliances with a capacity of less than 8 kg and energy efficiency class B or better for appliances with a capacity of 8 kg.

In addition to electricity, white goods also require plenty of water. You should therefore also pay attention to the water consumption when buying, which is also listed on the EU energy label: There is a water tap as a symbol on the bottom left of the label, under which the water consumption per year for 220 washes is noted. This gives you the opportunity to compare the devices with each other from this point of view.

Energy efficient washing machines
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Consumption per year: washing machines are becoming more and more economical

The water consumption of a machine can vary greatly from model to model. New devices with a capacity of six to eight kilograms use around 8,500 to 12,000 liters per year. However, the age of the machine is decisive and, alongside the model type and capacity, the most important indicator of water consumption.

Manufacturers have continued to improve the efficiency of their washing machines over the years. Today’s devices consume significantly less than thirty years ago. Back then, the household helpers needed a total of 180 liters to clean a load of laundry. Modern devices can do this with an average of around 49 liters per wash cycle.

The BetterWay label is an aid when purchasing particularly sustainable devices. BetterWay products have been rated as sustainable by independent testing organizations, which means they meet their minimum criteria. In the case of washing machines, in addition to energy efficiency, attention is also paid to whether they have an automatic quantity control. They must meet the spin efficiency class A or B with a spin speed of at least 1400 revolutions and have an integrated water protection system.

Do washing machines need hot water?

The water consumption of a washing machine is not affected by whether it is connected to hot water or not. Nevertheless, you should consider this – because it can save you electricity. Around half of the electricity that the machine needs for a wash cycle goes into heating up cold water.

However, you should make sure that the washing machine is no more than four meters away from the hot water connection. Otherwise too much heat is lost and the machine has to heat up again vigorously.

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It is worth connecting the washing machine to the hot water supply, especially for families who wash frequently. This saves energy and therefore money.

Image: © gerenme/GettyImages 2018

Old machines consume more – always

It doesn’t have to be the latest model, does it? If you really want to save water, yes. Because even less old washing machines cannot keep up with the economy of the current models.

Anyone who still owns a 15-year-old washing machine is very likely to waste around 112 liters per wash, with ten-year-old machines it is still 84 liters and even machines that are about five years old are no longer flagship models with 66 liters per wash. In practice, however, the actual water consumption naturally depends very much on individual washing habits.

If you want to know your personal consumption exactly, it is best to use one washing calculator. You can also use this online tool to find out whether it is worth exchanging a still-functioning classic car for a new washing machine. Both electricity and water bills can often be reduced thanks to more efficient technology.

Modern washing machines
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Used washing machines don’t pay off

In general, if you are thinking about buying a used washing machine instead of a new one, you should keep a particularly close eye on water consumption. Although old models are attractive because of their lower prices, they can also turn out to be a cost trap due to their high electricity and water consumption and possible pending repairs. With a small budget, it can therefore be more advisable to rely on a new device from a cheap manufacturer.