Building An Earthship In Darfield, B.C.

We are a family of five living in Darfield, BC.
Our house is six hundred square feet in total and we are feeling cramped.

We have decided to build an earthship!

So starts the adventure ...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Washing Machine Update

Today we bought a new washer! This morning was not pretty...the vibration caused several items in the cupboard on the other side of the wall to fall on to the floor and several wine glasses jiggled off their rack...none broken this time. However, after we stopped the machine and ritualistically cursed it, all the water emptied onto the floor.

After some intensive research on the internet we left to take Katie to the District finals of Battle of the Books (her team placed third out of eight!) we dashed to Sears and then to the Future Shop.

Our research showed us a few things. First, front loaders are more energy and water efficient (we knew this). What we didn't know was that the kwH on a washing machine assumes that the water in the unit is being heated by electricity. In other words, a unit with an internal heater might be rated 130 kwH but only if you heat the water. We've never used the internal heater on ours, preferring to wash in cold water. Studies by an electrician in the U.S. (sorry, can't remember who he is) showed that many washers using only cold water should have actually been rated at around 60-80 kwH.

The other thing we learned was that we had to be aware of sine wave. I can honestly say I don't have any clue what this means but Chris assures me that it has to do with whether we can make do with a 600w, 1200w or 2400w inverter on our future solar power or something like that. Hmm. I don't like it when I don't understand something.

Michael Reynolds' books point out that almost any front loader washing machine can be supported by a solar electrical system, but that a stripped down unit should be purchased (no bells and whistles). Also, the unit should turn off completely when the wash is done. In other words, no lights drawing power when the unit is done its work.

So our search found us considering two brands: Kenmore and LG. After salivating over the Bosch and Miele units we decided that a unit at less than 1/2 their price would be sufficient for us. Both washers were priced at around $800.

We ended up purchasing the LG because all of its lights turn off at the end of the cycle and it seemed to have fewer options to confuse us. We have other LG appliances and have been happy with the quality. We purchased the floor model (and got 10% off, how frugal is that?) Its kwH rating is 160 kwH. When we bought our Asko 10 years ago it was cutting edge for kwH and it was a whopping 235!

We delightedly hurled the ASKO out the door (Chris did) and I am gleefully considering all my possible methods of demolition in the coming days. The LG is installed and is so quiet that we are not sure it works properly. The drum is quite a bit bigger and it sounds like a hummingbird when it spins. As you can tell I'm still in the honeymoon stage of our appliance purchase...

And the dryer debate? Chris won. For now.

I found a really well made and sturdy retractable clothes line from Australia that will be available to purchase in Canada in a few weeks. For this year we will continue to hang our laundry outside and use our ASKO dryer (turns out it works without the ASKO washer but not vice versa). Once we are in the new house this fall or next spring/summer, we will evaluate whether we need a new dryer.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey, we always do our wash in cold water. So, I guess I get green points for that at least! :)

Our old dryer died this winter and we got a new one. However, in the meantime, I was impressed by how quickly clothes dried simply hung on plastic hangers on the shower rail or draped over the bannister.

[Oh, and I always dry my lingerie by hanging it from the chandelier in the living room. Seriously.]