New Washer & Dryer!
Our new washer and dryer turned up earlier today, and a clear sign we’re getting old is the level of excitement over it. Why are we buying a dryer of all things when we’re continually spending lots of money and effort to reduce our energy usage? It’s complicated.
Because we’re privileged enough to operate on a single-breadwinner economy, and I have significantly more earning power than Sabriena does, and due to childhood issues her definition of “clean” is a lot higher than mine (I’m essentially content with “tidy”, she is much more fastidious), she takes on the lion’s share of the housework. She’s a huge proponent of using the outdoor line whenever possible, but in winter time the weather in Horsham is… unpredictable. It might be fine and sunny, without a cloud in the sky, but by the time the washing machine is finished a full cycle it’s raining.
Since moving here, we don’t have anywhere appropriate to put clothes horses, nor do we have anywhere to put an undercover clothes line. So we’ve essentially just been struggling through, letting it pile up until we know we’re going to have a stretch of good weather. This sucks. Add in back injuries, the fact our clothes line is falling to pieces, and we’re probably still a couple years away from builing the veranda we want (where the plan was always to put a covered clothesline out there as well), and yeah.
So we need a dryer. We could get a cheap one, and just run it on the sunny days to offset the power usage. Same problem - predicting the weather. Around this time of year, in the middle of most days we have about 1kW of “excess” solar that we’re selling. On a sunny day, that could be 5kW or more - and the “or more” being essentially free energy, because we are capped at exporting 5kW at any given moment.
Looking at heat pump dryers though, and most of them seem to use around 1.5kW instead of the significantly-more that a resistive dryer uses. That’s low enough where even worst case scenario, doing a load in the middle of a cloudy day we’re “probably” only “paying” our export rate for the energy it uses - 11c/kWh AUD at the time of writing. So around 16 cents per load, roughly. In the summer time, we’re pinging off the export limit from about 10am onwards, so it’s free… so it really doesn’t matter if we use it then or not, the outdoor line would be more about convenience than saving money or energy.
So what about the washer? What’s wrong with ours?
Well first of all, we learned in the process that you cannot wall-mount heat pump dryers. Since our washer is a top-loader and there’s no room for a side-by-side configuration without tearing apart the laundry, that means it needs replacing anyway.
But on top of that, it’s a very cheap unit (we got the absolute cheapest thing available when we moved in to Shirley Street), and it’s starting to go out. It squeaks during the wash cycle, and bangs during the spin cycle… I’m suspecting there’s a rubber mount that’s perished, and it’s almost certainly fixable, but there’s flimsy justification to just buying a matching pair and being done with it. I’ll likely look at fixing it (or not) and put it up on the local “Buy Nothing” group for someone needy.
The new units? First of all the washer is so fucking quiet compared to the mechanical whirr of the old one. There’s still the same filling + emptying noises, slightly muted due to the door design, but otherwise there. The tumbling? You simply don’t hear it, you hear when a jean button slaps the drum. Same with the spin cycle, unless you’re in the room with it, it’s inaudible.
The dryer is quite similar, I was expecting “dryer” noises, and it’s loud but not as loud as I was expecting. Again, you hear the noise of something slapping the drum but beyond that it’s very tolerable. Those inverter motors are very fancy.
Performance wise, they both seem to do the job. We don’t have anywhere to put the drain hose for the dryer just yet, so we have to empty the water collection pan after each load, but that’s okay for now.
And energy? The dryer peaks at around 1.5kW at the absolute most (I don’t have a way to measure it individually, best I can do is look at the 15-second graphs of the whole-house energy usage), but it uses less power than the toaster (okay you don’t run the toaster for an hour at a time). The stove and oven use substantially more power instantaneously, but they do cycle on and off with a thermostat so it’s hard to say. The washer is absolutely negligible, I can’t pick out when it’s running on the graphs at all.