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A Guide to Shopping for Laundry Appliances

by Albert Lee Appliance

Is your washer starting to give out? Perhaps your dryer is leaving clothes feeling more damp than they are dry. Or maybe you’re looking to start fresh with a complete laundry room makeover.

Regardless of the reason, if you’re in the market for a new washer, dryer, or laundry pair, with Albert Lee’s expansive catalog of thoughtfully selected, energy-efficient appliances, every purchase will be an informed purchase.

For your convenience, we’ve rustled up a buying guide to make shopping for Energy-Star-certified laundry appliances easier than ever!

With self-quarantine guidelines in place due to COVID-19, Albert Lee’s digital catalog and contactless delivery make shopping for appliances online as breezy as possible. Visit our COVID-19 resource page for timely updates pertaining to our business.

stacked washer and dryer in clean, modern laundry room

How complicated can buying a washer and dryer actually be?

There is more than meets the eye when it comes to buying energy-efficient laundry machines. It’s beyond questioning whether you like the look of a front-load washer instead of a top-load machine better, but spoiler alert: even this simple choice has pragmatic implications to take into account.

Aside from style, you have to choose from a range of interior capacities for washers. And before you commit to a dryer, you will have to consider the hookups in your laundry room to select a gas versus electric fuel type and mull over a vented or condenser model—among a plethora of buying considerations.

Still, a big question might remain for you: how do I determine which products are the most energy efficient?

The good news is, Albert Lee is here to help spell out these and all other considerations you should take before you officially place your order. Here is how to shop online for laundry appliances and how to buy energy-efficient appliances!

Types of Laundry Appliances

From Albert Lee’s catalog, under the “Laundry” tab, you will find that we offer a few product categories:

a mother and her two young daughters do laundry

Comparing the Styles of Washing Machines

Here are the buying considerations you should take when shopping for washing machines.

As you look through our selection of washers, be sure to filter through our catalog for machines with sanitizing options for an even deeper clean.

Front-Load Washing Machine vs. Top-Load Washing Machine

Front-load washers are said to deliver a more hard-hitting wash while still being gentle on your laundry—and use less water to do so.

The Electrolux front-load washer proves this, as its SmartBoost tech maximizes the cleaning power of your detergent by mixing the water and detergent before the cycle begins. This front-load model even comes with a revolutionary Adaptive DispenserTM designed to accept detergent pods in addition to the tried-and-true liquid version.

In terms of washer-dryer placements for front-load pairs, keep in mind that most front-load washer doors swing left (luckily, front-load dryer doors are typically reversible). To dispel related concerns, Electrolux and GE are the only major brands that offer front-load washers with reversible doors—enabling them to fit just about anywhere you put them.

a person’s hand puts dirty clothes in a front-loading washer

On the other side of the debate, top-load machines are less prone to mold, wash clothes more quickly, and don’t force you to bend over to load and unload laundry.

Batting for top-load washers is Maytag. You don’t have to worry about setting the water level with this appliance—its Auto Sensing option adjusts the water level for each load to provide efficient, concentrated cleaning.

 a person’s hand puts dirty clothes in a top-loading washer

Agitator Washing Machine vs. Impeller Washing Machine

In another head-to-head Battle of the Washers, agitator and impeller machines have entered the arena. 

Speaking of Maytag’s top-load machine, its PowerWash® agitator is a feature that sets this appliance apart from the rest. Its PowerWash® cycle and agitator are touted for tackling any load size and stubborn stains.

Agitators are tall, vertical spindles in the center of the washer that rotate for a hard-hitting clean, rubbing against clothes to help break apart stains and loosen soils. 

a top-loading washer agitator

Their competition, impeller washers, use a small amount of water to optimize the friction of laundry rubbing against each other. Visually, impellers are the low-profile cones, wheels, fins, or discs that are seated in the center of the washer, and these also rotate for cleaning.

Energy-efficient models are available for both washer types. For instance, this Energy-Star-certified impeller washer from Whirlpool is a compact machine that promises to be tough on stains while preserving the softness of your favorite T-shirt.

a front-loading washer impeller

Interior Capacity

If you’ve got a big family or go through a lot of clothes every week because of soccer practices, or if you have a potty trainee who requires daily linen changes, a large-capacity washer is a must.

Several front-load Samsung models boast this useful feature, along with a Super Speed setting that can wash a full load in about 36 minutes—without sacrificing performance. On average, washer capacities vary between 3.1 and 4.5 cubic feet; large-capacity Samsung machines hold up to 6.0 cubic feet!

On the top-load front, Maytag washing machines hold their own, as their most capacious model can hold up to the same interior capacity.

Smart Features: Washing Machines

As you’re scouring our digital catalog, you might find the word “smart” in the product name of many washers. We advise you to take heed of the name and spring for an appliance that allows you to control wash cycles without getting up from the couch—with just your phone! Samsung, LG, GE, Whirlpool, and Maytag offer a variety of WiFi-enabled laundry appliances.

In the spirit of not getting up from the sofa, keep an eye peeled for self-cleaning washers, too.

a young woman uses her smartphone to set the cycle on her washer

Comparing the Styles of Dryers

When it comes to energy efficiency, there is more at stake if you want an Energy-Star-certified clothes dryer. We’ve got the lowdown on how fuel type, installation requirements, and ventilation can make a difference for you!

Gas Dryers vs. Electric Dryers

While the decision to choose between a gas dryer or electric dryer is more so contingent on the hookups in your laundry room (as opposed to personal preference), we implore you to still take energy-efficient considerations when making your purchase. To understand which fuel type is kinder to the environment, we must first understand how each dryer runs. 

Electric dryers use heating coils while gas dryers use a gas burner to generate heat. 

Gas dryers also tend to run hotter than electric dryers, which means your laundry can tumble for a shorter period. This can shave a few dollars off your appliance bill and result in less wear and tear on your clothes and linens.

This is all to say, on the energy-efficiency front, gas dryers reign supreme. On the utilities-bill front, you might break even: gas dryers typically cost more to purchase, and in the long run, the price of natural gas rivals that of electricity in many PNW localities. 

The case for electric clothes dryers is this: they are easier to install than their gas counterparts and can be wired by the homeowner. In addition, electric dryers are comparatively low-maintenance, and professional repair services cost less.

a man connects a laundry appliance into the wall

And just because gas dryers are more energy-efficient, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t Energy-Star-certified electric models on the market.

The Energy-Star-certified Electrolux Perfect Steam electric dryer gives your clothes a luxe treatment, promising to remove wrinkles with steam-sanitizing technology and an 18-minute Fast Dry® setting. Should you find your items in need of a refresh, this dryer’s Instant Refresh cycle nixes wrinkles and revives your garments with steam in just 10 minutes.

Condenser Dryers vs. Vented Dryers

Did you know that there are also condenser and vented dryers to choose between? It should be noted that installation requirements and ventilation also play important parts in making this purchase decision. 

The difference between a condenser dryer and a vented dryer lies in how they drain moisture from the machine. Vented dryers are far more common, featuring an attached, flexible hose that vents the moisture outside of your house. In contrast, a condenser dryer collects the moisture in a reservoir that must be emptied when the machine signals that it’s full.

Because in-wall installation is required to use a vented dryer, condenser dryers are more energy-efficient, condensing warm air from the wet clothes into water, which is then funneled into the reservoir. A heat-pump dryer is the most fast-acting condenser dryer, and it uses about half as much electricity as a traditional electric dryer.

Explore our guide to heat pump dryers for an in-depth look at heat pump clothes-drying technology and buying considerations for ventless dryers.

Smart Features: Dryers

As is the case with washing machines, smart features abound with dryers. Family-trusted brands like Samsung, LG, GE, Whirlpool, and Maytag offer WiFi- and app-enabled laundry machines so that you can monitor and control your appliance with just a finger and your smartphone touchscreen.

Some smart dryers can work with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant so that you can manage your laundry with simple voice commands. Most apps will also enable push notifications to be sent to your phone so you can be alerted when your clothes are ready to be folded.

And if you’re not ready to fold those dry clothes, you can always use your smartphone to set the dryer on another wrinkle-preventing tumble.

With smart dryers, the world will truly be at your fingertips.

a person’s hand manages the laundry with a smartphone

Alternative Forms of Laundry Appliances

There’s more to shopping for laundry machines than selecting one washer and one dryer and calling it a day. We’d like to direct your attention to these alternative approaches to purchasing a new laundry set.

Stacked Laundry

You might choose to have a utilitarian setup with one vertically stacked two-door washer-dryer machine!

This bunk-style configuration is ideal if you’re looking to confine your laundry space to a closet or other compact room—just make sure you have enough overhead space for this tall, stacked laundry unit.

Laundry Pairs

And of course, matching sets for your laundry room are available, too! 

Design tip: matching appliance sets give the rooms they occupy a sleek look. Check out the coordinating laundry pairs that family-trusted brands like Maytag and Whirlpool have to offer!

pair of matching front-load laundry appliances in bright white laundry room

Keys to Successful Purchase and Delivery of Laundry Appliances

As we wrap up our guide, we want to leave you with a few final notes.

1.  Figuring Out Which Styles You Like

A buying guide means nothing without independent research—there is a wealth of online information from appliance and home-design experts (including our blog!) to help you find the finishes and features that suit your taste and needs. Be sure to take your time scouring the Internet and our catalog before committing your card number to checkout. We can guide you over the phone or via chat to help you find the appliance that best meets your needs.

2.  Must-Have vs. Nice-to-Have Features

Budget is the most decisive factor when determining whether or not to splurge on luxury appliances with high-tech features and customizable accommodations, so be sure to keep an eye on the limits you set. But if you’re finding yourself on the fence, we say, go for it: we get a lot of mileage off major household appliances, and getting what we pay for is always a joyful prospect.

3. Using Chat or Phone to Ask Questions

Whether you’re narrowing your options or trying to figure out where to start, we can guide you over the phone or via chat to help you find the best appliance to meet your needs.

Our appliance experts are available for any questions you may have! You can click on the chat icon at the bottom-right side of Albert Lee’s homepage. You can also give us a call at any of our six store locations or our toll-free number at 1-866-966-2110.

4. How to Set Filters on a Catalog

As previously discussed, you can filter through search results based on personal specifications like cost range, brand, and whether an appliance model is Energy-Star-certified. 

Simply hover over to the left pane of the results page and expand filter options by clicking on any of the “+” buttons. There, you can mark your preferences (several at a time) and narrow your potential purchase to selections that fit your criteria.

screenshot demonstrating how to apply search filters in online catalog

5. Measuring Your Space

Remember to take, check, and double-check measurements of the available space you hope to fill with your new appliance. Product specification sheets disclose depth requirements and can be found on our product pages under the Useful Documents heading. (Watch the screengrab below to see where the Useful Documents section is on one of our product pages!)

Washing machines normally need a couple inches of space behind the machine for installation purposes, and dryers require approximately four inches behind them to allow for enough space for the vent.

A screengrab of a shopper scrolling down a product page to see Useful Documents

Let Us Help You

For any and all appliance needs, contact our experts at Albert Lee—we’re always happy to help. Call or chat with us today!

Regarding COVID-19, our appliance delivery teams are taking precautionary steps to help minimize the current public health emergency and, as such, have taken proactive steps such as disinfecting themselves between customer deliveries and wearing rubber gloves while performing deliveries at our customer's homes.  

We are taking every precaution to clean and disinfect our stores throughout the day above and beyond the normal cleaning process, including professional disinfection, as well as ensuring our customers and employees can maintain a safe social distance. For more information, please visit https://www.albertlee.biz/ala-covid19.