If you follow my blog then you already know that our ultra-expensive Kenmore Elite HE3t washing machine that we’ve had for six years turned out to be a piece of crap. We kind of loved it at first (earth-shattering vibrations, notwithstanding) because it saved a lot of water and was very energy efficient in comparison to our previous washer, a Whirlpool top-loader. It also did a good job of cleaning our clothes.
After reading in various appliance repair forums and comparing symptoms of our washer with topics in the forums (see Sounds like rocks are in the washer when it spins the clothes, as an example), I learned that the bearings were shot and it would lead to a very expensive repair bill. In my opinion, it was time to move on and put that money to better use by looking at some newer energy efficient washers.
Yes, it was Energy Star qualified but the Kenmore HE3t was not engineered very well for the long term. Not only that, I was ready to look at newer technologies that would reduce, or eliminate, the horribly violent vibrations that the front-loader was putting out on a regular basis. There is an inherent design flaw with the HE3t that we owned and for anyone that plans on locating it on anything other than a cement slab.
Read my recent article regarding all of the problems of the Kenmore HE3t, and similar models.
My solution to our dilemma was not to spend $400-$600 on repairs when that same amount of money would buy a brand new SEHA-rated (Super-Efficient Home Appliance Initiative) washer that will wash our clothes quieter and more efficiently than our Kenmore HE (model 110.459764).
Buying a washer is not an easy process for someone, like myself, that will research it to death before pulling out my wallet when it comes to major purchases.
Besides the obvious washing machines’ capabilities to actually clean the clothes as a top consideration, one of the criteria for washers that I learned about was CEE Tier ratings. Not only are there Energy Star ratings for washers, there are also CEE Tier ratings to consider.
There are Federal Standards, Energy Star standards and then there are CEE Tier ratings. Guess which set of standards are the bare minimum that a manufacturer can get away with and still put their product on the market in the U.S.. You guessed it, it’s Federal Standards.
Energy Star ratings are important but little-known CEE tier ratings will make the most difference in increasing energy and water efficiency technologies for appliances in the marketplace simply because they are more strict. So, if you want your voice, as a consumer, to be heard by appliance manufacturers, insist on purchasing appliances based upon the CEE 3-tier system. Tier 3 is the most stringent of the three.
The washer we picked out (Samsung WA5451ANW) is a Tier 3 unit and it was one of the few, if not the only, unit that had absolutely no negative online reviews (performance-wise) at the time that we looked. The same could not be said for top-rated Maytag Bravos models that we were seriously considering. The new Maytags have a tendency to twist clothes so bad during the wash cycle that wrinkles were extremely difficult to remove, if not impossible.
Samsung’s infuser (where the agitator used to be in older models) is a different type of technology from Maytag’s infuser.
What is CEE?
“The Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE), a nonprofit public benefits corporation, develops initiatives for its North American members to promote the manufacture and purchase of energy-efficient products and services. Our goal is to induce lasting structural and behavioral changes in the marketplace, resulting in the increased adoption of energy-efficient technologies.”
The different levels, or tiers, for washers are based on two factors, MEF and WF:
“MEF=Modified Energy Factor, a combination of Energy
Factor and Remaining Moisture Content. MEF measures
energy consumption of the total laundry cycle (washing
and drying). It indicates how many cubic feet of laundry
can be washed and dried with one kWh of electricity;
the higher the number, the greater the efficiency.”
“WF=Water Factor (number of gallons needed for each
cubic foot of laundry). A lower number indicates lower
consumption and more efficient use of water.”
Here is the breakdown of the different standards on the marketplace today:
- The Federal Standard for MEF is 1.26 and WF is 9.5.
- The Energy Star standard for MEF is 2.00 and WF is 6.0.
- CEE Tier 1 standard for MEF is 2.00 and WF is 6.0.
- CEE Tier 2 standard for MEF is 2.20 and WF is 4.5.
- CEE Tier 3 standard for MEF is 2.40 and WF is 4.0.
Look for that information on the appliances that you’re shopping for. If it is not in plain sight, ask the salesperson for details. Rest assured that all high-efficiency washers, top-load & front-load, are Energy Star-qualified. You may have to look a lot closer at the literature for the models that you are considering in order to locate the Tier ratings.
Helpful hints when washing clothes:
- Always use HE detergent in HE washers.
- Fill up the washer to capacity each load. They use approximately the same amount of energy per load whether or not it is maxed out.
- Wash in cold water whenever possible. Heating water consumes approximately 90% of the energy required for a load.
- Avoid the sanitary cycle. It dramatically increases the energy required for a load of clothes due to the extremely hot water necessary to sanitize.
- Leave the door open when not in use to avoid any mold issues.
- Rinse the washer with 1 cup of bleach to reduce the buildup of mold and mildew.
source: Energy Star
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