Buying Guides

Buying guide: Washer/dryer pairs

Buying guide: Washer/dryer pairs Author: Style At Home

Buying Guides

Buying guide: Washer/dryer pairs

Once upon a time, laundry duos were the wallflowers of the home appliance world. About a decade ago, however, they stepped from the shadows to become one of the more glam big-ticket purchases in the home. Driven in part by the rise in main-floor laundry rooms (plus, lofts and condos), many washers and dryers are now designed as much for looks as they are performance. Additionally, concerns about the environment have made water- and energy-conserving features must-haves when it comes to these machines.

Are you in the market for a new washer and dryer? Here's what to consider.

As with any other major purchase, start with a budget. There's no sense falling in love with a $1,500 washer if that’s all you can afford for both machines.

New washers average between $400 (for a full-capacity standard top-loader) and $2,000 (for a top-of-the-line, super-capacity, front-loading steam-washer). Dryers run between $350 (standard) and $1,600 (super-capacity, steam dryer).

You can often save money through rebates or point-of-sale discounts when you:
• Buy a pair;
• Purchase additional major appliances from the same manufacturer at the same time (ie. when you’re outfitting a new house);
• Shop in September or October as existing inventory goes on sale to make room for the next year's models.

Image courtesy of Maytag

Laundry pairs boast a vast array of bells and whistles these days. Look for the features you want but don’t be swayed by ones you won't use.

In addition to a variety of now-common settings (special cycles for different fabrics, time-saving Quick Wash, adjustable water-level settings, dryness sensors, drying racks, and so on), features we love include:

Steam washing: Raises the hot-water temperature and helps eliminate greasy stains like perspiration and oil;
• Oxi dispenser: Sends an oxygen-based additive into the wash cycle at the appropriate time to deep clean clothes with an eco-friendly bleach alternative;
• Sanitize feature: If you work in healthcare, farming, food prep or any other industry where you're exposed to bacteria, this feature is a must.  Likewise if you wash cloth diapers. Or just happen to be a clean freak. Washers sanitize either by heating water to about 150F/65 degrees Celsius, or, in the case of Samsung's Silvercare washer, by using silver ions that sanitize even in cold-water wash cycles.
• Wash delay: Set the washer to start later when you won't need the competing demand for hot water, or for closer to when the dryer will be free.

• Steam drying: Relaxes creases and wrinkles—and deodorizes—an already-dry outfit in about 15 minutes!
• Touch-up cycle: On steam dryers, does the same for a full load;
• Sanitize cycle: Kills bacteria;
• Interior drum lighting: Makes unloading easier in a dark basement or closet.

Image courtesy of Maytag

Energy efficiency
An Energy Star-qualified washer uses half the energy of a standard top-loader to operate. Also, energy-efficient, front-loading washers use about 18 to 25 gallons of water per load, versus 40 gallons in a standard machine.

According to the Alberta government household environmental initiative One Simple Act, laundry accounts for up to 20% of household hot-water use. So, purchasing an energy-efficient laundry duo can save you a lot of water, energy, and money—and reduce your carbon footprint at the same time.

Want to shrink it even more? Wash in cold water and, weather permitting, line-dry laundry outdoors. Although there isn't a huge range of difference in energy-use when it comes to dryers, a gas-powered dryer will use slightly less energy to run than an electric.

Small spaces
Apartment or studio dwellers who lack the space for a full-size laundry duo may consider smaller, apartment size units. You can also take advantage of vertical space by opting for a stacking washer and dryer.

Another option, if you want a full-capacity washer and dryer, is an all-in-one laundry unit like LG's 4.2-cubic-foot Combo Steam Washer/Dryer. It washes, then dries a full-size load of laundry. Because the dryer doesn't require a vent, you can place it almost anywhere in your home. (Be prepared though: clothes take longer to dry in vent-less models than in conventional dryers.)

Finally, don't forget style. (We probably don't have to remind you of this one, though!) A laundry duo in a visible place such as a mudroom, kitchen or other public space is as much a design feature in your home as a kitchen appliance or flat screen TV.

In the basement, it may be less visible, but consider the pick-me-up factor implicit in a cheerful candy-apple red, sleek stainless-steel or mellow blue duo.

Consider optional platforms to give your machines height while adding seamless, closed storage for detergents and other accessories.

Image courtesy of Maytag



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Buying Guides

Buying guide: Washer/dryer pairs