How Efficient is a Combination Washer/Dryer?

They’re somewhat new to the market, and not a lot of people opt into them; washer-dryers remain mysterious to most appliance shoppers, but they’re definitely a helpful solution for anyone looking to wash and dry clothes in a cramped laundry room.

And I’m not talking about the all-in-one, stacked washer and dryer double-appliance you might see in a lot of small apartments. In these washer-dryers, you put your clothes in the same drum, which looks a lot like an ordinary dryer with the rounded side door and drum-like inner chamber.

combo wdHow much do these space-efficient machines set back the standard home furnisher? They usually cost somewhere in the price range of $500-$1,500. Considering washers and dryers sold separately still start at around the same price, you’re actually saving half your money as well as half your space if you opt into the combo. If you’re considering buying a cheap one, first keep in mind that less efficient and well-functioning machines tend to cost an additional $130 per year to run, so if you’re keeping your machine for 10 years, that can really add up to more than the difference between buying a more or less efficient machine upfront.

So far we’ve got that combination washer/dryers are twice as space and cost efficient as separate unit washers and dryers. But what about energy efficiency?

It comes down to a variety of factors. One of these is whether you’re using a vented or ventless washer/dryer.

Vented dryers work like side-by-side washers and dryers int hat the washing cycle whirls laundry around in soapy water, rises it, and then spins it to rid the clothes of as much excess water as possible. Any steam that is generated in the process exits the unit and your home through a vent.

combo wd2If you have a ventless dryer, you won’t have access to a vent or an exhaust shoot obviously. This system washes clothes in much the same way as a vented system, but the drying method is different. When the drum spins your clothes, the warm air that enters the drum to heat the clothes becomes moist and is kicked through a condensing chamber where the air is cooled¬†until the water condenses. This condensed water leaves your machine through a pipe. Often ventless dryers leave clothes somewhat damp as they can’t quite do the job fully, but users tend to see this as a compromise they can make to have a machine where there isn’t an available vented infrastructure where they can have the machine installed.

That said, combo units in general tend to be more energy efficient than separate appliances due to they reduced hot water usage (meaning less stress on your heat pump) and water mechanics. Their drums spin faster than standard appliances, allowing more water to be spun out of clothing and less energy to be necessary for drying the clothing.

There are a fair amount of combo machine options on the market that meet Energy Star and Consortium for Energy Efficiency Standards, and these models can save a family of four over $100 each year on laundry utilities. So yes, combo machines are efficient!


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