Washers and Dryers Buying Guide

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Laundry room with front loading dryer
The clothes pile up. That clunky, rattling noise reverberating from your washer and dryer grows harder to avoid. It sounds like it’s time for a laundry-room upgrade. We’re here to lighten the load—you have plenty of choices when it comes to new laundry appliances and features that match your household’s requirements.
Where Do I Start?
Begin your search for a new washer and dryer by sorting through your needs. Washers and dryers are an investment, so think about how much use the appliance will get today and in the future. If you’re single now, your laundry needs are probably light. But if your family is going to expand, planning ahead for a laundry system with a large capacity and more high-end features (like a special cycle for delicate baby clothes) will pay off in the end.
If you’re debating whether to purchase both appliances at the same time, keep in mind that a laundry set is designed to work together—the capacity of a dryer is determined by the capacity of the washer, so it’s best to buy the pair if budget allows. And manufacturers often offer a rebate on sets, making your upgrade more affordable.
Make sure you have room for side-by-side appliances—if space is limited, opt for a space-saving model, like a stackable washer and dryer. Measure the area and consider the space around the doorframe and baseboards—those tiny few inches can make a huge difference when appliances are delivered. Take note of where your water hookup and exhaust vent for the dryer are so they align with your plans.
At Capacity
If you face an endless heap of laundry every day or have an athlete in the house, a high-capacity washer could make your life easier. If your washer and dryer don’t see regular use, choose a smaller-capacity set and save energy and water. Don’t rely on a manufacturer’s marketing terms to describe the size of the appliance (such as “extra” or “super”)—for a true comparison, analyze appliance capacities in cubic feet.
A good way to visualize that capacity is to picture a load of bath towels. A compact washer will hold about 7 towels (1.5 to 3 cubic feet); a standard washer’s capacity could accommodate 14 to 17 towels (about 3.1 to 4 cubic feet of space) and a very large-capacity washer could hold 24 towels (over 5 cubic feet). 
Whether or not you’re buying a set or purchasing a single appliance, make sure your dryer has up to twice the capacity of the washer. You may end up with a dryer that’s a little larger than you usually need, but that’s better than struggling with a wet comforter that doesn’t fit in the dryer.
Next Generation
Much has changed in the washer-and-dryer market. If you want to fill your home with smart appliances, features like a quiet cycle, steam dryers and even Wi-Fi are now available. Some newer models even have dual chambers that handle large loads and delicates simultaneously. Before you pick a machine with complex features, like the washer that can sense what type of fabric is inside, be careful what you wish for—too many bells and whistles might turn this chore into a rocket-science project. 
Expert Tips
• Leave 20 inches of door clearance for top-loading washers.
• Subscribe to e-mails from major appliance stores for coupons, dates of sales and pre-sales in stores and online.
• Did you know October is one of the best times to buy a new washer and dryer? Newer models are released during this time and distributors are eager to clear their inventory of the previous year’s models. 
• Make sure your appliance is ENERGY STAR®-certified and labeled. This means that these machines meet requirements for efficiency, saving water and energy.
How it works: Tub fills with water twice (wash & rinse), agitator moves items through the water
Budget ranges: $399–$1699
Lower initial price
Easy to add forgotten item
Unload from a standing position, no bending
High water usage
More wear and tear on clothes due to agitator
Longer dry time as clothes retain more water after spin cycle
How it works: Doesn’t fill with water like a standard machine, determines how much water the load needs
Budget range: $699–$1499
Gentle treatment of clothes
Greater capacity
Less water usage than standard models
Faster spin
Higher initial price
HE detergent required
Deep tubs make it harder to reach inside
How it works: Determines how much water is needed for a load; lifts clothes
to the top to loosen dirt and mixes detergent to create concentrated solution
Budget range: $699–$1499
Highest potential for utility savings
Less water usage than standard models
Greatest capacity
Able to stack to save space
Higher initial price
HE detergent required
Pay extra for a drawer stand that raises the washer, so loading and unloading doesn't require bending
How it works: Heated air passes through the drum
Budget range: $399–$1499
Costs less than gas model
Transfers heat to surrounding rooms
Takes longer to dry clothes
Costs more to operate
Requires three- or four-prong, 240-volt outlet
How it works: Hooks up to your natural-gas connection for heat
Budget range: $500–$1500
Costs less to operate
Heats faster than electric
Dries clothes fast
Can be converted to liquid propane
Initial costs are more than electric
Requires external exhaust vent
Requires three-prong plug
How it works: Compact machines stack one on top of the other to save space
Budget range: $1299–$1599
Excellent space-saver
Smaller washing capacity
Standard hookups needed
Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery | Ferguson.com
Howard Payne | HowardPayne.com
Noland | 770-458-2111 
NorthPoint Kitchens | NorthPointKitchens.com
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