Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Water Waster One Thousand

We are green people. Not green as in St. Patrick's Day, but as in reduce, reuse, recycle. We stopped using chemicals on the lawn years ago. We drive so few miles you wouldn't believe how little gas we use in a year. When we needed new toilets, we did careful research and happily bought the low-flow kind, a choice we've never regretted.

Not so with the "water-efficient" front-loading washing machine we bought two years ago.

Who designed these things? I suppose they meant well, but seriously, low-water-use front-loaders require multiple cycles to get clothes clean and soap-free, and longer dryer cycles to get things dry. Not very energy- or water-efficient. On top of that, the ultra-fast spin cycle presses wrinkles into the clothes--wrinkles that don't relax in the dryer.

Peter hated our machine the first time he used it. He told Abby that whenever her washer gave up the ghost, she could have our front-loader. When that happened, he said, he'd go out and by a "Water Waster One Thousand." Whatever it took to get the laundry done both quickly and well.

We got the call a week ago; her machine had died in the middle of a load. Within hours our machine was in her basement finishing up that load.

I went online to research water-efficient top-loaders. Consumer Reports gave several of them high ratings (as it had the front-loaders two years ago). But the consumer comments presented a very different picture. Average satisfaction was two stars out of five, and quite a few people were pretty heated in their criticisms.

They cited the same complaints we had: wrinkles, clothes not getting clean or rinsed thoroughly, extra cycles costing time, money, and resources.

On top of that, it seems that the new "green" top-loaders don't have agitators. Instead they use a new type of action that rolls the clothes every few minutes and bounces them hard against the bottom of the machine in minimal water. Users reported that their clothes and linens were developing holes and wearing out faster than ever before. Water levels are determined by the machine based on the weight of the load, and you can't override the setting. 

When we went to two different appliance stores and told them what we wanted, they gave us the "well, some people just don't want to adjust to new things" line. Fortunately, our egos don't depend on the approval of sales people.

It took us no time at all to pick out a new top-loading washer from the back of the store--that's where they keep the ones with agitators and manual water-level settings. These tend to cost more, and in fact we bought one of the better models--all stainless steel, a great warranty, made right here in the Midwestern US of A.

Peter used it for the first time this afternoon. He just came up from the basement smiling. "I can watch the clothes swishing around in plenty of water, knowing they are getting clean," he said.

"I am a happy man."


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