Drum Capacity and Material
Courtesy of Bosch
Most dryers will offer you between 5.7 and 7.5 cubic feet of capacity.
Households with a lot of laundry will find that a dryer with a big drum reduces the number of loads and therefore the time and energy spent drying clothes. It also makes it easier to dry large items such as comforters or blankets that might otherwise require a trip to the Laundromat or dry cleaner. Think about how your family might be changing — the birth of babies, children returning home after college or an elderly parent moving in — when you buy your washer and dryer.
Don't get sold on labels such as "king-size," "super," "plus," or "extra-large" capacity. Manufacturers also might define drum size by the number of jeans that it can dry, or the pounds of laundry it can hold.
To compare apples to apples, look at cubic feet of capacity. Dryers usually range from 5.7 to 7 cubic feet, with some manufacturers now making models with up to 7.5 cubic feet of capacity. A compact dryer usually offers 3.4 to 3.8 cubic feet.
Your dryer should offer about twice the capacity of your washing machine-clothes need room to move to dry efficiently and without wrinkles.
Like washing machines, most dryers use one of three drum materials: plastic, porcelain or stainless steel. However, because the washer has already done the hard work, the dryer drum doesn't take as much abuse, and stain and rust are less of a concern.
Plastic tubs are long-lasting, lightweight and less expensive. Porcelain-coated tubs are durable and easy to clean, but porcelain can chip. The highest-end models use stainless steel, which is easy to wipe clean and doesn't stain or rust.
Energy Standards and Tips for Dryers
Energy Standards for Dryers
U.S. Department of Energy standards for dryers made or sold in the United States have remained the same since 1994. Dryers don't vary significantly enough in energy usage for the government to require they have EnergyGuide labels or for the Energy Star program to qualify high-efficiency models.
The Energy Factor (EF) measures dryer energy-efficiency. It is stated in terms of pounds of clothing dried per kilowatt-hour of electricity. The higher the EF, the more efficient the dryer is. All standard-size electric dryers must have an EF of 3.01 or greater, while gas dryers must have an EF of 2.67 or more.
Electric models typically cost more money to run, depending on your local electric rates. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, gas dryers cost 15 to 20 cents per load to run on average, while electric dryers cost 30 to 40 cents per load.
Dry full loads.
Air dry clothes when possible.
If your dryer has moisture sensors, use them. They will shut off the machine when clothes are dry.
Dry clothing and bedding with items of a similar weight.
Clean the lint filter after every load to increase air flow and decrease drying time.
Dry two or more loads in a row to take advantage of residual heat from the prior load.
Here are some additional options that you may want to consider when purchasing a washing machine:
Some washers have manual controls such as dials or push buttons; others have digital touchpad controls; some use a combination of the two. Touchpad controls are easier to clean, easier to see in poorly lit rooms, and allow you to program different settings. Of course, models with digital controls also tend to be more expensive.
This feature allows you to load the washer and determine your settings, then postpone the start of the wash to a more convenient time; say, after the morning showers are done or during the night when electricity rates are lower.
Detergent dispensers that distribute the detergent at the appropriate times are somewhat common. Higher-end washers, including most front-loaders, also feature dispensers for bleach and fabric softener.
If your washer will be on a main floor of your home and not the basement or garage, noise may be a concern. Washing machines with additional insulation, sound packages or reinforced frames will run more quietly.
Depending on the location of your washer and whether or not you have children, you may want a model with a safety lock on the lid or door to prevent it from opening during the wash cycle.
A one-year warranty is standard.
A Space-Saving Option
Courtesy of Maytag
A combination washer and dryer work well in homes with limited space.
Two types of products fall under the washer-dryer combo heading: laundry centers and all-in-one washer dryers. These laundry appliances typically are used in homes where space is an issue.
Often found in apartments, condominiums and other multi-family housing, laundry centers are the more common option. They're also known as stacked washer-dryer units.
Rather than consisting of two separate components, a laundry center is just one appliance, with a top-loading washer on the bottom and a gas or electric dryer on top. It can be full sized (27 inches) or compact (24 inches).
With an all-in-one washer-dryer, clothes are washed and then dried in the same tub. These products have been more popular outside the United States, where homes are smaller and many homeowners prefer to line dry most items.
In addition to being used in apartments, condominiums and other multi-family housing, all-in-one models are good for homes that do not offer dryer venting to the outdoors.