Clothes washers are one of the highest water users in the home, so does it make sense to repair an older washing machine? Older units consume 45 gallons per load, but new models use only 12 – 20 gallons per load. Energy savings from newer models can be $45 to $65 per year, adding to the dilemma. Water savings depend on where you live and range from $20 to $80 per year.
Here’s our thinking on the repair vs. replace question. Clothes washers are expected to last 11 years for front loaders, and up to 14 years for top loaders
Less than 5 years old. Get it repaired if the estimate is less than $400.
More than 5, less than 11 years old. Repair if the estimate is less than $400. When the unit is middle-aged, replacement can make sense.
Suppose you spend $400 on a repair and the washing machine lasts another five years? Your current model will cost you an average $50 per year more in energy costs and $20 more in water costs. That’s $350 over the five years and a total cost of ownership of $750 ($400 + $350). That’s getting close to the purchase price of a new washer, $900 to $1200. In this case, replacing makes sense.
More than 11 years old. Buy a new washing machine. The energy savings will total more than $70 per year.
Look for rebates when buying a new washing machine, as many water utilities pay customers to upgrade to water-saving models.
And wait for the sale. Retailers discount washing machines heavily during key holidays (Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Black Friday, Presidents Day, Memorial Day, 4th of July).
The bottom line: If you have any trouble with a standard washing machine more than five years old, replace. Don’t repair. If you live in an area with high water or energy rates, don’t wait to replace, as the savings will pay back the cost in 5 – 6 years. If you buy a top CEE tier machine, you can cut the payback down to 3 years. Best to plan ahead, figure out the model you want, and buy it on sale.