Clothes Washers

Boston, MA: A six-alarm fire on October 17, 2011 devastated Wardman Apartments in Roxbury, one of 16 affordable housing developments developed and co-owned by Urban Edge. There were no fatalities due to the courageous actions of residents and firefighters. But thirteen people were injured and more than 75 residents became homeless.

Urban Edge was able to clean up some of the affected units to allow for a number of families to return to their homes by the end of 2011. However, because the fire required immediate demolition of the 71 Westminster Avenue section of the building where twelve families lived, those families were temporarily housed in other units elsewhere.

The reconstruction of 71 Westminster Avenue is now complete and the families have returned. In keeping with Urban Edges sustainability standards, the new building exemplifies the best in green affordable housing.
::: Read the complete story in the Press Release here :::


Clothes washers are one of the top users of electricity in a household. Over its 14 year life expectancy, clothes washers cost an average of $1100 to $1500 to operate. Approximately 90% of the energy used by clothes washers goes toward heating the water. Increase your energy savings by using less water and using cooler water.

Urban Edge Guidelines

  • Select an Energy Star approved washer. A good rating provides a 15% less energy use. Click here to learn more about clothes washer energy efficiency ratings.
  • Select a front loading washer with a horizontal axis versus a top loading vertical axis machine. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, horizontal washers use about 40 percent less water and 50 percent less energy.
  • Select a model with different temperature settings. Cold wash uses less electricity.
  • Select a model with several water level options. The user can adjust the water level to fit the load.
  • Property managers should check if there are any special detergents required and inform tenants. Low-water washers use special low-suds detergents for best results.

Spotlight on Urban Edge

Urban Edge developments have common laundry rooms. Urban Edge rents clothes washers from an outside vendor. Currently, the majority of the washers are top-loading models although we are planning to transition to front-loading machines.

Options and Criteria Review

Washer Types, Cost

There are three categories of commercial and residential washers on the market. Front-loading washers are the most expensive but will yield the most savings in the long-run.

  • Traditional Top loading washers. These models are the least inexpensive to purchase but may be the most expensive to operate. 
  • ENERGY STAR-rated top loading washers. These models look like conventional washers but they use a different type of cleaning process to clean clothes with less water and energy. Many of the machines use sensors to monitor water temperature. They also rinse clothes using a high pressure spray versus soaking them in tub of water.
  • Front-loading models (also called horizontal-axis). These are usually the most expensive, and the most efficient to operate. Clothes are placed into a horizontal drum and tumbled through a small pool of water at the bottom of the tub. This action uses less water and cleans clothes more gently than conventional washers which rub clothes around a central agitator. Horizontal axis machines also have a faster spin speed than vertical axis machines, using less drying energy.

Public Acceptance

Clothes washers in the US are predominantly vertical-axis, top-loading machines versus horizontal-axis, front-loading models. The front-loading aspect of many horizontal axis machines may be less desirable for many people due to bending required to load clothes in and out of the machine.



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