Monday, September 22, 2008

21st Century Laundry

Over the weekend I bought a new washing machine because my old one was pretty much dead and had already been repaired at least three times since I got it in 2004 (I think). Well, I do an awful lot of laundry and the thing wore out that quick. Also, the last two months' electric bills have been over $500. Ouch! That's about double what we've been averaging. Part of it is probably the addition of the pool, but that is worth some extra expense and it won't run all year anyway. Also, TVA has announced a 20% increase in their rates, so that increase is passed on to us.

So I was thinking about all the other big electricity consumers in the house and what my options might be to reduce our bills. Since the old washer wasn't spinning very well to get enough water out of the laundry, I've had to run the dryer longer and that is a big energy user because of the heating element. I really couldn't afford both a new washer and dryer, so I figured if I got a new washer it might help the most since it could reduce the drying time.

Okay, just a quick aside, hanging our clothes out to dry is not really a healthy option here because of all the allergens like pollen that would collect in the laundry. We all tend to have problems with various pollens so it would be pretty dumb, and unhealthy, for us to add a lot more to the household by drying our clothes outside. Incidentally, Knoxville is rated as one of the worst cities in the US for allergies and asthma.

The old washer was a typical American top-loader, which I think of as a very 20th Century design. The new washer is a front loading Bosch (German company but the machine was actually made in the USA):

At first I was a little skeptical that it would actually clean our sometimes very dirty laundry without so much water. But so far it seems to do very well. It's kind of amazing. And I'm only having to run the dryer about half the time, or less even, that before. Wonders never cease! I guess some people get these things because they want to save the planet or some other lofty goal, but frankly I just did it to save my checkbook. ;-)

And it cost about the same as a replica of an old wringer-style washer like my grandma used to have. I still think those are cool, but the Bosch is even cooler. And smarter because it automatically senses the size of the loads and adds water accordingly, as well as having a special sanitizing cycle and an extra energy efficient option, if I am feeling especially "green". ;-) I'll add a note after the next electric bill saying whether or not it has helped.

Another nice bonus is that I'm not having to spend as much time messing with the laundry either. So that means more time for blogging. :-)

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