Clothes Washers


Residential clothes washers include both front-loading and top-loading machines. Most clothes washers are classified as “standard” size, which means that they have capacities of 1.6 cubic feet or greater. “Compact” clothes washers have capacities of less than 1.6 cubic feet.


DOE finalized the current standards for residential clothes washers in 2012, and they took effect in 2015. The standards, which were based on a consensus agreement between manufacturers and efficiency advocates, specify minimum energy and water efficiency levels. The metric for energy efficiency is integrated modified energy factor (IMEF), which is expressed in terms of cubic feet of washer capacity per kWh of energy consumed per cycle. IMEF incorporates machine electrical energy consumption, hot water energy consumption, the energy required to remove the remaining moisture in the clothes, and any standby or off mode energy consumption. The metric for water efficiency is integrated water factor (IWF), which is expressed in terms of gallons of water consumed per cubic foot of washer capacity. A higher IMEF indicates better energy efficiency, while a lower IWF indicates better water efficiency. The current standards specify minimum IMEF levels of 1.29 and 1.84 for top-loading and front-loading washers, respectively, and maximum IWF levels of 8.4 and 4.7. A second tier of standards for top-loading washers will take effect in 2018 and will require a minimum IMEF of 1.57 and a maximum IWF of 6.5.


Clothes washer efficiency improvements can be achieved through advances in mechanical technology (efficient motors); reductions in the amount of water consumed to clean a given volume of laundry; and higher spin speeds to remove more moisture from the clothes at the end of the cycle, which saves energy in the clothes dryers. Top-loading and front-loading clothes washers meeting the ENERGY STAR specification (Version 7.1) have IMEFs of at least 2.06 and 2.38, respectively, and IWFs no greater than 4.3 and 3.7.

Projected Savings

Savings through what year?:
Energy saved (quads):
CO2 savings (million metric tons):
Net present value savings ($billion) 3% discount rate:
Net present value savings ($billion) 7% discount rate:


Fact Sheets



ASAP Press Releases



Federal Date States
Potential Effective Date of Updated Standard 2024
Updated DOE Standard Due 2020
5th Federal Standard Effective 2018
5th Federal Standard Adopted (DOE) 2012
Test Procedure - Last Revised - Active Mode 2012
Test Procedure - Last Revised - Standby/Off Mode 2012
4th Federal Standard Effective 2011
4th Federal Standard Adopted (Congress) 2007
3rd Federal Standard Effective 2004
3rd Federal Standard Adopted (DOE) 2001
2nd Federal Standard Effective 1994
2nd Federal Standard Adopted (DOE) 1991
1st Federal Standard Effective 1988
1st Federal Standard Adopted (Congress) 1987
NAECA Initial Federal Legislation Enacted 1987

Timeline reflects state standards from 2001 to present; federal standards from inception to present.