How Much Energy Does a Washing Machine Use?

By Erin Hynes | Dec. 30, 2021 1:32 pm PST

Washing machine with sudsy load

Most clothes washers don’t use much energy at all to accomplish basic functions of filling, agitating, draining and spinning clothes. Only 10 percent of energy used to wash laundry is used by the washer drive motor according to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Ninety percent of the energy used to clean clothes is used by the water heater. Other washer components such as the water valves, drain pump and controls use negligible amounts of energy.

The drive motor in a washer uses less than 250 watts of power per load. If you wash 6 loads per week, the electricity used by the wash motor will cost you less than $1/month on your electric bill.

The amount of energy the water heater uses to heat washer water depends on many factors such as selected water temperature settings, washer water level and the type of water heater that you have (gas or electric). If you strictly choose cold wash and rinse temperatures, the water heater won’t use any energy during the cycle.

Some clothes washers have special features that use more energy than traditional washing machines. Washers with a sanitation cycle have an internal heater at the bottom of the tub to increase water temperature to kill germs. Washers with a steam function use a small water tank with an internal heater to produce steam for sanitation, stain removal and other cycles. Read on to see how much energy these components use.

How Much Energy Does a Washer Internal Heater Use?

Choosing a wash cycle that uses the internal heater can use more energy than the drive motor. For example, a clothes washer that activates a 1000-watt heater for 30 minutes to heat water during a sanitation cycle will use an additional 0.5 kWh of electricity.

Using that cycle once per week adds 26 kWh of energy use for the year costing about 25 cents more per month on your electric bill. Heater wattage and its duration of use varies by model. Actual energy used per cycle depends on the model.

How Much Energy Does a Washer Steam Generator Use?

Beginning in 2006, manufacturers added a steam generator to some of their washer models. The steam generator increases energy use of the washer when you select a cycle that uses steam. The amount of energy that the steam generator uses varies by model but typically doesn’t exceed 0.25 kWh per load.

Steam washers typically use less water to clean clothes during cycles that utilize steam. Using less water means that less water heater energy is used to clean clothes. This tradeoff often results in a steam washer using less overall energy to clean clothes than a conventional washer.

Washing machines are tested for energy use in mint condition. Keeping your washer in top condition will prevent it from using more energy than it’s rated to use. Follow the maintenance steps described in your owner’s manual to keep your washer operating efficiently.

To further ensure that you washer stays in top shape and doesn’t waste energy, schedule a service technician to perform annual maintenance checks throughout the life of your washer.

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