Running Hot and Cold

We have just had to replace our 17-year-old washing machine. I won’t go into the details of its demise, but it has gone to be recycled – a service that we decided to pay for to ensure that it actually happened. So, we have had to buy a new one…

IMGP2355

hot and cold

After some research, we chose to buy an Ebac, the only company whose washing machines are made in the UK. The choice was relatively straightforward as they seemed to have the best ethical rating that we could find and we are trying very hard to buy British whenever we can. However, the big choice was between ‘single fill’ and ‘dual fill’. (“Oh,” I hear you saying “what an exciting life you do lead, dear Snail.”) For those of you not au fait with washing machines, the difference is whether all the water comes into the machine cold (single fill) or whether you connect to both your hot and cold supplies so that not all the water heating is done in the machine (dual fill). For us, it initially seemed like a no-brainer: our water is heated overnight using cheap electricity (known as Economy 7), so let’s use the cheap hot water to do our washing. Yes?

 

And then we started reading up on the subject and it appeared that it may not be worth it. Modern washing machines, you see, use relatively little water and tend to wash at relatively low temperatures. So, most of the limited amount of water that is required by the machine from the hot source is supplied by the water already sitting in the pipe (i.e. cool). So the argument goes that you mostly fill the machine with cooled water whilst replacing it with hot water in your pipes, which then cools down and wastes energy. Hmmm.

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the new machine

However, we needed to think about our own domestic situation. Because we live in a bungalow, and because of the way that our plumbing is arranged, our hot water tank is actually less than 1m away from our washing machine… ok, there’s a bit more pipe than that because it goes down and then up, but there’s no more than 2.5m of pipe, including the connector pipes. So, the water runs hot very quickly through to the washing machine. And, therefore, our final decision was to buy a dual fill machine. So far, it seems to have been the right choice- the machine is taking in a significant proportion of hot water, based on the temperature of the pipe, and this means that the machine itself should be using less energy than with single fill. Combining this, when possible, with only washing on days when it’s sunny and the solar panels are working, should be the best option both financially and environmentally.

 

It’s all too easy to read advice on the web and make what appears to be an informed decision. However, a bit of thinking is also good too… the internet cannot replace common sense!

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12 Comments

  1. So true, the internet cannot beat common sense. I am always impressed with the time and care you take with your purchases. We made a huge mistake with our washing machine. I thought get a big one and wash less often, but choose one which is far too big.

    Reply
    • I love being able to do the research from my armchair… although it takes time, I think it saves a lot of disappointment in the end. It also helps to stop me fretting about purchases.
      This machine will hold a larger load than our old one, but I’m hoping I’ve struck the right balance.

      Reply
  2. Laurie Graves

     /  April 19, 2017

    I’m with nanacathy2. What wonderful time and care you use for your purchases. Long may your new washing machine last!

    Reply
  3. For us, the water economy was the most important factor. The vast majority of machines in this country are top loaders, which use more water, but offer the convenience of being able to add to a load while it’s running. I wanted a front loader, which is gentler on the clothes and more water-economical. For us, the hot water/electricity issue is less important because we wash everything cold in a short wash, using cold-water detergents, and run it when the solar is generating power. It seems to work pretty well, and I get the Husband’s diesel-y work clothes pretty clean. But I’m impressed at the 17 years of service you got from the previous one. Hope this one gives you at least 25!

    Reply
    • Fingers crossed. My stupidly sensitive skin means that I am very restricted with the detergent that I can use, so the availability of a hotter wash is quite important here. I too hope for 25 years!

      Reply
  4. Our machine is just coming up to it’s 17th year of use, too, and we’ve been having similar discussions about what to get after this one decides to quit on us, so seeing your post is quite timely for me 🙂
    I’m hoping we’ll still be able to keep our old one going even longer, if we can manage it, but at least I’ve now got a pointer towards a more ethical, British-made, machine to look at – thanks for taking the time to look them up, and tell us about it 🙂

    Reply
    • it was a real conundrum whether to repair or replace and in the end we went for the lazy option

      Reply
      • Not really lazy – let’s be fair, 17 years for a washing machine to keep going is a miracle nowadays!
        Maybe we were both fortunate to have found the few machines that were built to last? Lol
        An engineer once told me that any machine usually has the life expectancy of the free insurance it’s sold with, so I guess we both did well 🙂

        Reply
  5. Nothing to do with washing machines, but my mother has a General Electric fridge that she bought the year I was born (ie. 1961) – and it’s still working! It came over to South Africa with us in 1970.

    Reply
  6. May I quote you: “The internet cannot replace common sense.” That needs to go on a bumper sticker or a tea towel.

    Reply

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