Okay, Greenies, answer me this - replace/repair clothes washer

We moved into our next house this summer, and the clothes washer is old and it looks like it is just about done in (it leaks both water and oil). Is it greener to repair an old, inefficient washer, or buy a new, more efficient one to replace it?

Its heavily dependant on how inefficient the old washer is.

Given that the old washer is mostly metal and metal is recycleable, if you can afford a new one, go that direction. Just make sure to recycle your old one rather than dump it.

My expertise is more with green buildings that appliances but I’ll take a crack at this.

Chances are that the overall environmental impact of manufacturing and shipping a new washer and disposing of the old one would exceed many years worth of energy and water savings gained compared to fixing the old, inefficient one. I can’t imagine the payback (to the planet) would be less than 10 or 15 years, and the way appliances are made these days, it’s likely that your new washer will break down during that time and the owner at that time may have even more efficient alternatives.

For you personally, it might make financial sense to get a new one–there might be a pretty short payback period in energy and water savings versus the incremental cost of a new washer over the cost of fixing the old one. But that calculation doesn’t take into account the environmental impact of manufacturing, shipping and disposal.

Now, the above doesn’t take into account some variables. Chief among them is how you calculate different types of environmental impact, such as greenhouse gas emissions due to energy use, water consumption, and landfill considerations. If you live in an area where water consumption is the main environmental concern, then you might assign a higher value to water savings than to carbon emissions. Moreover, if your old washer can be recycled at a nearby washing machine plant that runs on hydroelectric power, where your new washer can be shipped to you via solar-powered delivery truck, then the environmental equation would tilt more toward getting a new one.

If you really want to be green, wash your stuff by hand and hang it on the line.

On the other hand, if you leave your old washer by the curb somebody else will fix it up, therefore helping out a poor person, salvaging that washer, and allowing you to enjoy your new more efficient washer guilt-free.

I used to wash my stuff by hand - the government is going to have to outlaw washing machines before I’ll give mine up. :slight_smile:

Good thoughts here - I was thinking in terms of the metal and energy used to make the new machine, but I hadn’t thought of the energy costs in shipping the new one here (and the old one to the city dump, which actually does recycle all the appliances that come in).

I guess our next step is calling the repairman and getting an idea about the cost of fixing it - it might be an easy decision after that.

Hey, I hadn’t thought of all the furniture, cars, and houses we’ve recycled - we have almost no new furniture in the house, and our cars and houses have always been second-hand. Maybe we can take the ecological hit on buying a new washer.

Again, I don’t know about where you live but around here appliances get snapped up off the curb in hours. The city dump doesn’t even get a whiff of them. They get repaired or recycled by industrious people.

What? You wear clothes? Planet-raper!

If you get a new washer, get a front loader. They are very green as opposed to a top loader. Shop around and read all the poop about each one.