Washing machines

There is a considerable price range in washing machines, and that, plus the list of features, is the main purchasing criteria.  However, if we look at the whole life cost of one of these machines, the decision as to which one to buy could be different.  There is a huge variation in build quality, and thus expected life of the machine, and also the energy used to run the machine.  As an example, average annual running costs can vary between £40 and £60 in terms of energy and water used.

Most machines available today are at least ‘A’ rated, but there are several machines with multiple pluses after the ‘A’ which use much less energy, and therefore have lower associated carbon emissions. Overall, you could be forgiven for thinking that there is not an enormous difference in running costs as stated, but a cost which is not so obvious relates to the design life of the machine – as an example, you might have to allow for the price of 2 or 3 Hotpoint machines in the life of 1 Miele or Siemens machine.  Also, with some of the cheaper machines you will have to pay a high price to extend the warrantee beyond 1 or 2 years, whereas a Siemens machine, for example, comes with a free 5 year warrantee.

Tumble Dryers

Clearly, the lowest carbon method of drying washing is air drying, either outside if you are confident enough to risk the weather, or inside if you have the space and time – an old fashioned Sheila Maid is excellent for this, especially if you have high ceilings.  That said, many people are forced to opt for the tumble dryer at least some of the time. As a running cost comparison, annual cost can vary between £27 and £91 for the same amount of drying.

So, we can see a much bigger difference in energy use here, with the most efficient machine using not much over a quarter of the energy of the least efficient.  The difference in price between the most efficient and least efficient examples would pay back in less than 7 years in saved energy costs.  The same discussion on build quality and warrantees applies to these machines as mentioned for washing machines above.


Not many people actually think about the power consumption of their television, leaving it on with impunity when not even in the room, and taking no notice of the wattage clearly stated on the label on the back when purchasing a new model.  We are told that picture quality and other features play a more important role.  As an example, running costs on TVs in the 37” to 42” range can vary between £9 and £32 per year to run.
A key point here is that the annual running cost for a plasma TV is 50 – 60% higher than that of the equivalent sized LED TV.  Also, if you are prepared to sacrifice a small amount of screen size, there are options that are much cheaper to run – for example a 37” LED TV can have less than half running cost of a 42” LED.