SEATTLE.GOV City Services Staff Directory About Seattle City Contacts
Link to Seattle City Light web site Search SCL    
Lighting Seattle since 1902 Jorge Carrasco, Superintendent
Residential CustomersBusiness CustomersCommercial and IndustrialKidsTalk to Us    
Conservation: Your dollars
Frequently Asked Questions
Rebates on Coin-operated Machines
Conservation: WashWise Costs
WashWise logo, by permission

How much do WashWise qualifying clothes washers cost?
When thinking about costs you need to consider both the cost of purchasing the machine and the cost of operating the machine. These two elements combine to make what we call 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. Washing machines ordinarily have a useful life of between 10 and 15 years. Qualifying tumble action clothes washers typcially cost between $700 and $1100 to buy but they cost considerably less to operate than conventional washers. Their life-cycle cost is much lower than a conventional machine because of their lower operating costs.

Okay, you claim that these new resource efficient machines will save me money. Let’s see the hard data.
The purchase price of these machines is definitely higher than an agitator type machine with comparable features. While it’s possible to buy a new washer for $300 in a retail store, a more realistic price is $400 to $500. The new, large capacity U.S. made WashWise washers cost between $700 and $1100 before you take into account available rebates. That makes for an incremental cost (the additional cost of buying one of these machines over the cost of buying a conventional model) of between $300 and $600 before the rebate.

Seattle residents can benefit from the WashWise combined, mail-in rebate of $75 from Seattle City Light (SCL) and Seattle Public Utilities (SPU). These rebates reduce the incremental cost to between $200 and $500.

In addition, typical users can expect to reduce their utility bills by between $50 and $90 a year for electricity, water and sewer charges. That means the incremental costs can be recovered in as little as 2 years figuring operating cost savings alone.

What assumptions are you using to make these calculations?
We assume purchase of a U.S. made machine, an average of 4.8 washes per week, $.09 per kwh for electricity (the average of City Light summer and winter rates), current water and wastewater rates for Seattle and about 1 kwh per load savings for shorter dryer times.

Are there other savings to take into account?
Yes. The easiest saving to put a dollar value on comes from the use of much less detergent than would be required for an agitator type machine. Detergent savings can amount to at least $15 a year, reducing the payback period on the incremental cost even more.

In addition, clothes last longer and clothes that formerly required either hand washing or dry cleaning can be machine washed. While putting a precise dollar value on these items is more difficult, the savings are real and the payback period further reduced.

What about the European made machines?
It’s a bit more difficult to compare conventional agitator washers to the European made tumble action machines for several reasons. First, they have a much smaller washing drum than the U.S. made models. Even though they can handle the "standard" load, studies show that this standard or average load is only seven pounds in the U.S. Second, almost all of the European machines require a 220 volt electric hook up as compared with the standard 110 volt requirement of U.S. made machines. Replacing a U.S. made agitator type machine with a European made tumble action machine will almost certainly require rewiring the circuit to the laundry room.

The European made machines are a bit more expensive, too. They begin in price at about $1000 and go up from there.

Does that mean that it would be a mistake to buy a European made machine?
No, these machines offer some benefits not available in U.S. made models. These benefits may ideally suit your individual needs but you will have to determine that for yourself. Among the benefits are:
  • smaller size - they are better suited for an undercounter application or in some apartment applications. In addition, if you wash smaller loads as a rule these machines are better matched to your need. The efficiency of the larger machines per cycle varies very little between full loads and sparse loads so your washing behavior may defeat some of your new washer's technical efficiency.
  • greater temperature control for wash water - most of these machines require only a cold water hook up because they heat their own wash water. This allows for an ultra-hot wash that people with allergies may prefer.
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.

Residential Conservation Programs & Services | LaundryWise | WashWise

The Seattle City Light Web Team:

Seattle City Light -- 700 5th Avenue, Suite 3200, Seattle, WA 98104-5031 -- 206.684.3000
Mailing address: 700 5th Avenue, Suite 3200, P.O. Box 34023 Seattle, WA 98124-4023