How We Saved Money on a New Washer and Dryer

See this? This is HALF the laundry that was generated in my household in the last week since the dryer broke. The washer and dryer were on their last legs and decided to die in my absence. Right on their heels went the radiator and thermostat in our van. And the cam sensor. Whatever THAT is. My poor husband never let on that the supply of clean clothes was dwindling and that he had no way to transport all six children anywhere. I guess that explains the panic he might have felt when I almost missed my connecting flight in Phoenix. What a guy!

Do you know how much dirty laundry is created in five days’ time?!

Thankfully, I did get home at the prescribed time. And we spent Monday picking up the pieces. FishPapa called around town to get quotes on a new radiator for the van and off the van limped for repairs. Meanwhile, I hopped online to find a new laundry combo.

Here’s what I considered in my decision:

  1. What’s the going rate? We had previously researched front loading, high efficiency machines and realized that for the money, we probably weren’t going to get a much longer-lasting washer and dryer than your standard, old school, top-loading washer and standard dryer. We do a lot more laundry than the average household. We quizzed a repairman about this and he concurred. Plus, I just couldn’t swallow the idea of dropping $1,600 to $2,000 on laundry equipment. Instead, I looked up the going rate for your basic Whirpool combo which was about $1,000 after taxes.
  2. What’s the best cash back? I checked with Ebates as well as ShopAtHome to see who had the best cashback percentages for Sears, Home Depot, and Buy.com. Turns out ShopAtHome was offering 5% back at Sears as well as a coupon code for $5 off a $50 purchase.
  3. What kind of sales and rebates are going on? Clicking through to Sears, I found out that Sears had multiple deals going on, including 15% off all washers and dryers, a free delivery rebate, and a $50 rebate on each appliance.
  4. What’s the energy cost? We compared the energy costs of the basic Whirlpool washer and dryer to the Energy Star combo. Since we know that I do an average of 12 loads of laundry per week, we know that a w/d combo will not last as long at our house as someone else’s. Our last set lasted us 5 years. So, after some computations, we realized that the extra cost of the Energy Star machines did not pay for itself. (And before any of my green friends hassle me about buying the bargain machine, can I say that my thermostat is set at 64 degrees in the winter? We are doing our best to conserve energy in other ways. ;) )
  5. Can I just stay home? In former times, I might have been concerned about seeing the machines in person and checking out all the bells and whistles. But, experience has shown me that the bells and whistles are just that — a lot of noise. They normally aren’t all that they’re cracked up to be. I read some reviews and was satisfied that basic was going to work for us. Normally, I would have said no to delivery since we own a truck. But, that gas, time and effort still costs us something. Being open to delivery proved to save us a lot more money since it was FREE!  

Cost of washer and dryer after taxes and delivery fees: $933.89
Delivery rebate from Sears: -65.00
    Appliance rebates from Sears: -100.00
      Cash back bonus from ShopAtHome: -39.70
Coupon from ShopAtHome: – 5.00

 Total Spent on New Washer and Dryer: $724.19

When all was said and done, we saved over $200 purchasing our new set, without even leaving the house. And it turns out that there were a few bells and whistles thrown in for good measure, like “wrinkle shield” and “energy preferred” settings. I spent the better half of Thursday whipping through 10 loads of laundry. I think these new machines work faster than the old ones.

Best of all, we’ve got clean clothes!

Edited to add: There’s been some great discussion in the comments regarding HE machines. Just to clarify, my point #4 above was comparing the energy savings of a basic top loader and the “Energy Star” top loader. I am not questioning the efficiency of the HE machines, but we had already made the decision not to spend 2K on the set.

So, looking at the lower price point machines — the top loaders — that was the conclusion we were making. It didn’t pencil out to pay $150 more to get a fancier top loader. I apologize for any confusion I might have caused.

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Comments

  1. JonnyMommy says:

    Wow!! Great job!! Doing your homework definitely pays off!

  2. I can’t believe you only do 12 loads a week! :) I do more than that, and I’ve only got two kids!! Hhhmmm… Okay, so I’m going to hope that part of it is that we live in Colorado and wear more clothes than you guys. Am I just that inefficient? Something to think about!

  3. I am really impressed at how much research you did – you’re right to evaluate the “energy efficiency” of your appliances. It ISN’T cost efficient for everyone, and I don’t think you should feel any guilt over that fact! Everyone contributes in their own way to a “green” earth.

    I say great job! :)

  4. I love that you talked about all the bells and whistles… because I think when we go out and shop for something we want something that looks nicer rather than what can do its job! :)

  5. We bought a new washer/dryer set about 4 years ago. It’s not a front loader but they’re bigger than normal capacity (in other words, I can wash anywhere from 2-3 “normal” size loads in just 1 load in the new ones). So, I wash about 4-5 loads per week, instead of double that. I don’t use my dryer a whole lot, I hang laundry outside most of the time. (I’ve had to use it more this winter, thanks to so much wet and cold weather). We had always had used washer and dryer sets up until then. Another thing we do is wear our clothes longer than 1 wearing (NOT underwear) and re-use towels and washrags for as long as we can. We have better luck at this in the winter than in the summer. We stay at home/homeschool so it’s a little easier. I have really enjoyed my washer/dryer (never had a new set and a matching one at that). I think we spent about $1,000.

  6. I think the issue of whether or not to spend more on a high efficiency washer and dryer is a hot one. We have an HE washer and dryer and I give talks on home energy savings. I’m wondering if in your energy calculations you considered the following:
    – The HE washer spins so much more water out of the clothes than a top loader that we run the dryer for a fraction of the time we used to and we often do not put sweaters, fleece items and cloth diapers in the dryer because they come out so dry it’s efficient to line dry or lay them flat. This saves both time (in the dryer) and money (because the dryer is run for much less time.
    – The HE washer uses much less water, so our water usage bills are down.
    – We wash predominantly with cold water, but if you still use warm or hot, the less water also saves on water heating bills.
    – The HE washer uses significantly less detergent. You don’t actually have to use special detergent, just a lot less of your regular, so you buy 25%-30% of the detergent you used to buy.
    – The front loaders are much more gentle on the clothes with the tumbling action vs the agitating of the top loader, so your clothes and towels, etc, look nicer and last longer (esp important if you pass them down between children).

    All of the these things save you money, which I understand is most important to you. They also benefit the environment, using less water, putting fewer chemicals into the environment and using less gas or electricity.

    I’m very surprised to hear you say that your washer/dryer only lasts 5 years, I hope you get twice that out of your new set, because that seems awfully short to me. I’ve had my set about 5 years, and while I’ve had the washer repaired a few times, it was under warranty each time and I expect to get several more years out of them.

    I have 3 children (including one in cloth diapers) and I can’t imagine having 6. Good luck!
    Alicia

  7. I thought that I was the only crazy person who set the thermostat so low! Ours is on 63! Honestly, it was a decision not to spend so much on our utility bill – I wish I could say that I did it to conserve energy.

  8. Thanks for sharing all this information. I have one question about the warranty. Did you choose to buy one? If not, why not? Just curious, is all. We purchased a Maytag washer from Fry’s Electronics about 5 years ago and opted for the warranty for an extra $50. It expires this year and we’ve had to use it about 4 times over the last 5 years. I’m guessing we’ll be due for a new one this year. What happened to the washer and dryers and fridges lasting for 20 years? My Momma’s fridge lasted 20 years, through 10 moves and repainting.

  9. Thanks so much for this post. We used to have a front loader in our last house and I loved it (except for washing diapers), but when we moved our new place has a basic top loader, and I’m not entirely sure we’ll go back to a front loader, I love that I can wash more in each load. I think for us price vs options will probably win for us as well when we need to replace.

  10. AWESOME job!!

  11. Okay- well I am going to have to respectfully disagree with you on this one :). Our washer died 4 years ago and we researched and splurged on a HE machine. I think we paid $1100 for our washer. It is huge and does about two times what our previous large capacity washer could hold. As for efficiency, our water bill is about half of what it was before we purchased the HE machine. Electricity was harder to measure, but there was a decrease. We use less detergent in our machine as well and the clothes come our very clean. Even though we spent twice as much money on our machine, I know we have made up the difference in fewer loads, and lower water and electric bills. Our water savings the first year was almost $500.
    I have no idea how long our washer will last, so I guess only time will tell if we actually made the best decision. :).
    Great job taking so much time and research in purchasing your appliances. Many people don’t think twice, run out and buy the first set they see and charge it to their card!
    Toni

  12. One thing not discussed is water and detergent savings. A front load washer uses 1/3 the water and detergent that a top loader does.

  13. Jessica Fisher says:

    So, so glad that y’all feel free to share your own experiences — and to disagree with me ;). I realize that ours is not the same decision that everyone else would make, esp when it comes to energy usage.

    Just to clarify, my point #4 was comparing the energy savings of a basic top loader and the “Energy Star” top loader. I am not questioning the efficiency of the HE machines, but we had already made the decision not to spend 2K on the set. So, looking at the lower price point machines — the top loaders — that was the conclusion we were making. It didn’t pencil out to pay $150 per machine to get a fancier top loader. I apologize for any confusion I might have caused.

  14. Happy Housewife- I’d love to hear which machines you purchased. We are nearing end of life on our current set (9.5 yo). I’m set on front loading, HE machines with steam.

    I’m impressed with the amount of research that went into this purchase! Big kudos! Hubs and I have spent so much time looking at my dream machines in Lowes that we probably could have paid for them by now in gas and time!

  15. I was lucky that when we decided to buy a washer and dryer, we got a great deal from Best Buy! I caught it the week before Thanksgiving, and was able to get a front load washer and dryer for $700. That’s $700 total, not $700 each. They were originally $699/each, but were marked down to $350/each. It was just because it was an older model, and they wanted to make room for the new ones. I love them, and it is much more efficient that I don’t have to spend time drying and (re)drying load after load.

    Glad you like your new washer and dryer. It seems to make the chores less mundane!

  16. HE front loading washers have their issues! We bought our HE washer/dryer from our local Sears scratch and dent store and saved 50%. We’ve had them for about 4 1/2 years and we have issues with the washer not draining all of the water out at the end of the wash cycle. My husband has to go in and drain it a lot. Kind of frustrating and at times I wish I just had a top loader!

    • Jessica Fisher says:

      Hey Stephanie,
      That’s great that you guys got such a good deal. If money had been no object — or we had found one on clearance, we would have done the same thing.

      That’s a bummer, though, that it’s not draining properly. My husband found this report on Consumer Reports’ blog that might be helpful to you. I guess your problem is a common one and one that could lead to mold issues. I hope you guys can get that resolved.

  17. Great job on doing your homework quickly to get such significant savings! I will have to remember those steps you took when we decide to buy another appliance.

  18. Well, you know I had to give congrats on a new washer! You thought it out really well – very nice job! Top loaders definitely have their perks.

    Jamie – I have a Kenmore Elite He5t with the steam setting. L-o-v-e it. Really I do. That steam setting is unbelievable – but it does add 30 mins to the wash time. Just FYI.

    -Lauren

  19. hey thats my washer! i got the dryer to match too and thats about how much i paid for it too only i didnt do any price comparisons or cash backs or anything because im young and it was my first time purchasing any appliances, but i did get lucky and the washer had a small ding in the metal in the back which popped right back out so we got a much cheaper price!

    i love the set btw good choice!!

  20. I agree with Alicia and the Happy Housewife about the reasons for an HE machine. Those are all reasons I love my front loader as well (and water is tiered here in the desert). I also love that it takes me 40 minutes to wash a load, and about 50 to dry it (on low). I LOVE how much water it gets out of the clothes, and I really love how gentle it is on the clothes.

    One thing we didn’t do: we didn’t buy a set. When the dryer went out, we bought a dryer. When the washer went out, we bought a washer. The dryer is a different brand and a lot less money than our washer, but I have been very happy with it. Both machine are the large capacity machines.

    I bought my washer online as well, comparing models for energy usage, settings (having 2 different delicate settings was a big deal to me), size, etc. I bought ours online, too. The comparisons were easy to put side my side in a word document on the computer.

    I wash 4 loads a day most days (not Sunday).

    I hope you love your new washer and dryer!

  21. Even though it is too late for you to change your mind… here is a note for those of you who are looking into buying a new machine. Our appliance dealer suggested a SpeedQueen if we went with a top loading machine. He says he puts them in hospitals,etc. where they get incredible use and he never has to go back for repairs. They are very basic machines but very durable. Alas, we ended up with a HE machine but are still having trouble with the mold. Thanks for the info on the Consumer Reports blog.

  22. While getting ready for work yesterday, GMA had a blip about a ‘cash for appliances’ like ‘cash for klunkers’. It seems the government is having some type of rebate right now for purchasing more energy efficient appliances. I wasn’t paying that much attention since appliances aren’t in my future, but you may want to take a few minutes to research it – you might get a little more back!

  23. We got an HE washer and found the rebates from both our electric and water utility companies helpful in lowering the overall cost. Our house has a floor heater, so in the winter we can dry clothes on a rack over top of the heater (being careful that nothing hangs too far down). This also blocks off the top of the heater so that nobody walks on it and burn their little feet.

  24. We just replaced our dishwasher, and I found out that our local electric company offers a $25 rebate when we buy an Energy Star appliance. If your purchases were Energy Star rated, then you should check that out!

  25. I love my Maytag top loader washer and old dryer- they are both almost 20 yrs old and going strong!

  26. Whew! We can tell we all do a lot of wash, hugh?! ;)

    We have top loaders; I think they’re on their last leg though. I *always* have to dry each load for about 30 minutes more.

    I would love to hear how you settled on Whirlpool? Our set before last was Whirlpool, and I was very happy with it. The set we have now is Frigidare. I liked the Whirlpools better; nothing scientific, though; just my preference. Have you heard anything about the best brands??

    • Jessica Fisher says:

      We talked to a repairman before making a lot of these decisions. He said Whirlpool was the most reliable and also the easiest to fix. (His advice also steered us away from HE machines because the repair costs are high and there are inherent bugs not yet worked out, like the mold issue.)

  27. I’m about to do this, buying just the dryer. However, where do you get the FREE delivery rebate?

    ~Peaches in CA

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