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Conservation: Your dollars
Frequently Asked Questions
Rebates on Coin-operated Machines
Conservation: WashWise Program

  Frequently Asked Questions

WashWise logo, by permission

Q.1 What are the benefits of WashWise machines?
  • They are friendlier to the environment - These high efficiency machines use about 60% less energy and 40% less water than conventional machines. That means less stress on our natural resources, a cleaner conscience for you, and cleaner clothes.
  • They wash clothes cleaner - Your clothes will be cleaner (and softer!) because these machines rinse the clothes better thereby removing more detergent. Also, the tumble–action of the front–loaders cleans better than conventional agitators that stir up your clothes to get them clean.
  • They use less detergent - Because machines use less water, you need up to 2/3 less detergent to get the same concentration you would from conventional deep–water washers [NOTE: Most washer manufacturers recommend using only special High Efficiency (HE) detergents in their front–load and high–efficiency washers. Using conventional detergent causes excessive suds which greatly reduces the cleaning action and prevents complete rinsing.]
  • They wash more gently - Front–loaders tumble clothes rather than stir them up. This washing action results in less friction between the clothes, and less chance of damage by getting caught around the agitator. You'll find you can machine–wash delicate items such as lingerie and wool sweaters that you would normally have to wash by hand. You may also notice less pilling and lint buildup in your dryer filter.
  • They run more quietly - Forget about turning up the volume on your radio when you do laundry. Tumble–action machines run so quietly that some new users thought their machine wasn’t running at all. The feature is particularly valuable if your laundry facility is in your living space rather than in the basement.
  • They handle large and bulky items with ease - Now you don't have to go to the laundromat to wash your quilt, pillows or sleeping bag. You can wash these items in a standard–size tumble–action machine. These machines actually do a better job of washing when you stuff them full when loading.
  • They shorten dryer time - WashWise clothes washers have very high spin cycles which means clothes come out of the washer much less wet. This is known in the industry as "remaining moisture content" or RMC. With much lower RMC, dryer time can be cut up to half.
  • They save you time and money - Not only will you be able to run your dryer less, you'll also spend less money on water, detergent, clothes (they will last longer) and dry cleaning.

Q.2 How much do WashWise machines cost?

When thinking about costs you need to consider 1) the purchase and, 2) the operating costs. These two elements combine to make what is known as the Life-Cycle Cost, or the amount you would expect to pay to buy the machine and to run it over the life of the unit, typically between 10 and 15 years.

WashWise clothes washers cost between $700 and $1,100 (before rebates) compared to conventional machines, which cost around $400 - $500. That makes for an incremental cost (the additional cost of buying a WashWise machine) of between $200 and $600 respectively, before rebates.

Q.3 Will buying a WashWise machine save me money?

WashWise machines cost considerably less to operate than conventional washers. Typical users in Seattle can expect to save between $90 and $150 a year for electricity, water and sewer charges, with the bulk of those savings being for sewer and water. That means the incremental cost can be recovered in 2 to 4 years when you figure in operating cost savings alone. The assumptions for this calculation are 4.8 loads per week, $.09 per kWh for electricity, current water and wastewater rates for Seattle, and about 1 kWh per load savings for shorter dryer times. These figures do not take into account likely savings on detergent and possible dry–cleaning savings.

Keep in mind that energy savings from clothes washers alone vary considerably with different laundry behavior. A person who has always washed and rinsed clothes in cold water can expect less energy savings from a machine. Most of the energy savings will come from reduced dryer time. For those who usually wash/rinse in hot or warm water, energy savings will come from the reduced amount of hot water required and the shorter drying times. In either case, the bulk of the cost savings will likely come from reduced water and sewer use.

Q.4 How does using a front–loading machine compare with a conventional top–loading machine?

  • Loading the Machine - Unlike conventional machines, packing the drum full of clothes actually improves the quality of the wash. So feel free to stuff it full. Once the clothes are wet, they shrink in volume and no longer completely fill the drum. And there is no agitator to get in the way of washing large or bulky items like pillows, quilts, blankets and sleeping bags.
  • Special Detergent - Most washer manufacturers recommend using only special High Efficiency (HE) detergents in their front–load and high–efficiency washers because they are made with a special low–sudsing formula. It’s important to measure HE detergent exactly as recommended by the manufacturer. (Using conventional detergent or too much HE detergent will cause too many suds which can greatly reduce the cleaning action and prevent complete rinsing.) HE detergents can readily be found where regular laundry soap is sold - look for the 'HE' symbol the next time you shop. There is no difference in price (or shouldn’t be) for this particular type of detergent, nor is there any reduction in loads per container.
  • Adding Clothes during the Wash Cycle - Unlike a conventional machine, front–loaders have a door that locks when the wash cycle starts. This prevents the door from accidentally opening and causing injury and/or spillage. Many front–loading machines do allow for the addition of clothes during the wash cycle. To add clothes, you will want to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Q.5 How does a clothes washer qualify to be a WashWise machine?

Qualifying machines must meet minimum efficiency standards for both water and energy use. The machines must be tested by a reputable laboratory under a specific set of conditions and satisfy an exact standard for energy and water efficiency. Some front–loaders can’t meet the minimum Washwise standard. Not all ENERGY STAR® rated machines qualify for rebates.

The WashWise program provides rebates on efficient washing machines in three tiers based on their modified energy factor (MEF) and water factor (WF):
  • Tier 1 - $50 rebate: MEF no lower than 2.0 and WF no higher than 6.0
  • Tier 2 - $75 rebate: MEF no lower than 2.2 and WF no higher than 4.5
  • Tier 3 - $100 rebate: MEF no lower than 2.46 and WF no higher than 4.0
A list of qualifying machines can be found at

Q.6 Are there any top–loading clothes washers that qualify as WashWise machines?

A few of the most efficient top loading machines qualify for WashWise rebates. A complete list of qualifying washing machines and their associated rebates can be found at

Yen Chin, Appliances, LaundryWise and WashWise For more information from Seattle City Light on WashWise, please e-mail or call 206.684.3800.

For detailed information about claiming a WashWise rebate or to check on the status of your rebate, please email or call 1.866.632.4636.

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