Commercial clothes washers, which include both front-loading and top-loading models, are typically used in laundromats and multi-family buildings.
In 2014, DOE finalized new standards for commercial clothes washers, and they took effect in 2018. The standards specify minimum energy efficiency levels of 1.35 and 2.00 MEF (modified energy factor) for top-loading and front-loading washers, respectively, and maximum water consumption levels of 8.8 and 4.1 IWF (integrated water factor). Relative to the prior standards, which took effect in 2013, the new standards represent energy savings of 15% and 18% for top-loading and front-loading washers, respectively. The standards also reduce the water consumption of front-loaders by 20%, while the maximum water use of top-loaders remained essentially unchanged.
MEF is expressed in terms of cubic feet of washer capacity per kWh of energy consumed per cycle. MEF incorporates machine electrical energy consumption, hot water energy consumption, and the energy required to remove the remaining moisture in the clothes. IWF is expressed in terms of gallons of water consumed per cubic foot of washer capacity. A higher MEF indicates better energy efficiency, while a lower IWF indicates better water efficiency.
Front-loading washers are generally much more efficient than top-loading machines. Significantly greater energy and water savings could be achieved if all commercial clothes washers met the efficiency levels of front-loading machines. Under the 2018 standards, a top-loading washer can consume almost 50% more energy and more than twice as much water as a front-loading machine. DOE found that the 2018 standards can be met using higher spin speeds for front-loading washers and improved controls for top-loading washers.