Are top-loading washing machines becoming a relic of the past?All but washed up by the increasingly popular, energy-efficient front-loading washing machine, it seems that top-loading washers are making a comeback.
Some had predicted the eventual demise of top-loaders as government regulators imposed ever-stricter water- and energy-use limits on washing machines.
That pity-party was short-lived. Most manufacturers have learned from polling their customers that 70 percent of them prefer top-loading washing machines either because that’s what they’re used to or because they don’t like bending over to stuff their clothes into a front-loader.
In response, makers of the machines have figured out how top-loading washers can comply with the government’s call for greater efficiency, and are introducing models that are cleaning up with consumers and holding up against their front-loading competitors.
Fisher & Paykel, for instance, renewed its resolve in 2007 to make only top-loaders, and boasts that its 3.7 cubic-foot Ecosmart model uses just 24 percent of the energy of a traditional washing machine. The 4.6 cubic-foot Kenmore Elite Oasis eliminates the center agitator to allow more space for clothes, up to 24 bath towels in one load, the manufacturer claims, and saves 63 percent more water and 65 percent more energy than a traditional model.
If you want a new top-loader, buy a model with an Energy Star label. That means it’s more energy efficient than a traditional machine.
You may have to look around for one: Of the 280 washers that bear the Energy Star seal, which means they are 25 percent more efficient than the government requires, just 10 are top-loaders.
And even those aren’t as energy efficient as the best front-loaders, which use up to 77 percent less energy and 73 less water than traditional top-loaders.