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  • Choosing the right washing machine Image

    Choosing the right washing machine

    Friday 26th July, 2013

    Buying a washing machine can seem daunting – with so many features and functions it's hard to work out which one is best for you. Plus, throw in all the different makes and you have dozens of models to consider.

    To help you out a little, our nerds have put together this guide to washing machines, with some key points to consider before you order a new one.

    Type of washing machine

    First of all you have two loading types – a top loader or a front loader. Unless you have back lobby with loads of room, the chances are you'll be putting your washing machine under a counter top, meaning you'll need a front-loading machine.

    There are two main types of front-loader – integrated and semi-integrated.  It's simply refers to the way it fits into your kitchen or washroom. Integrated machines will fit into a cupboard under the counter and be completely hidden when the door is shut. A semi-integrated machine is hidden from view when the unit door is shut except for the controls.

    Top loaders are good if you don't have much room in your kitchen units, have a narrow space, or if you have a bad back and don't want to stoop while doing your laundry. American versions are generally bigger than European makes.

    Cold fill machines are now standard, whether top loader or front loader. They are more energy efficient and not as harsh on fabrics as old-fashioned hot fill machines. For anyone with solar panels, hold and cold fill machines are a good way to make use of your free hot water.

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  • Wash programmes and spin speeds Image

    Wash programmes and spin speeds

    Friday 26th July, 2013

    Wash programmes can be confusing. Generally speaking, however, you can break them down into four main categories – cottons, synthetics, delicates and woollens. Modern washing machines sometimes feature a handwash programme for silks and fine wools.

    You can also find mixed-wash settings and most come with a pre-wash function to remove dirt before the main cycle starts.

    Many machines come with a variable temperature control, meaning you can select a cotton cycle but lower the temperature a little if you don't think the items are particularly dirty. This can be especially useful as reducing the wash temperature from 60c to 40c can save you roughly 40 per cent in running costs.

    Some machines even let you vary the time as well so you can fine tune each load to exactly the cycle and temperature you require.

    Quick wash and economy settings are useful for lightly soiled items that simply need a quick freshen up.

    Many machines now feature a rinse hold function. This will hold the clothes in clean water prior to the final spin in case you are not there to remove them straight away, the idea being to reduce the chance of creased clothes.

    All machines let you drain out the water at any stage of the cycle in case you have to stop the wash to retrieve something from the drum.

    Spin speeds vary according to the machine, but most will come with at least two settings; a quicker one for cottons and a slower speed for delicates. Generally this will range from 1,000-1,800 rpm on the higher end to roughly 400-800 rpm for the slower setting.

    The machine will often automatically select the spin cycle to match the setting you've chosen. Some let you vary the spin speed. For cottons it's best to select a long spin cycle to help them dry. If you plan on buying a tumble drier, having a spin speed setting will save you money on bills as the spin is more effective at drying.

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  • Energy efficiency and washer-dryers Image

    Energy efficiency and washer-dryers

    Friday 26th July, 2013

    These days it's really important to think about the energy efficiency of your washing machine. Electricity costs continue to rise and you may well find that splashing out on a top of the range machine saves you money in the long run compared to opting for a cheaper device.

    The most energy efficient – and therefore the cheapest to run – is rated A, with machines ranked all the way to G, which is the least efficient. More expensive machines tend to carry a better rating, as they feature all kinds of different energy saving functions and technology. For example, a timer delay is a really useful money-saving function as it lets you make use of cheaper overnight electricity without having to stay up all night.

    Most machines will automatically use no more water than is required for each load, though some will have a half load function if you only have a few items to wash.

    Washer-dryers are a great option, particularly if you are short on space. If you don't want to have separate tumble dryer and washing machine they're ideal. These machines are also great in small flats that simply couldn't cope with a full-size washing machine.

    They come with all the normal features you would associate with a standard washing machine – temperature controls, variable spin cycles and the rest. But the drum size –which is usually smaller than a normal tumble dryer – means the drying function can be limited. Generally speaking if you have a full load of washing you should only dry half of it at a time.

    As with normal washing machines, more expensive, top-end machines tend to be more energy efficient and save money in the long run. For anyone living on their own, a washer-dryer makes perfect sense.

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  • Installing your washing machine Image

    Installing your washing machine

    Friday 26th July, 2013

    If you already have a washing machine you'll need to carefully disconnect it. There are various services available to remove old washing machines and we suggest you don't try to do it alone.

    Before your new machine arrives, you'll need to prepare the area and make sure you have protection on wooden floors to avoid scratches. Remove the transit straps that hold the drum in place. These are usually accessible at the back of the machine. Make sure the machine is level on the surface – this will keep it running more smoothly and prevent it shaking.

    Vibration can be an issue, however, if you have tongue and groove or suspended floor. This is noisy and can harm the machine, meaning it needs replacing sooner. If you have this sort of floor it's best to mount the machine on a thick piece of blockboard screwed to the floor.

    The instruction manual should be enough to install the machine, but if you face any problems try the manufacturer's helpline. Finally, make sure all the plumbing is left to one side so it's easy to access if it needs servicing.

    If you have any questions about washing machines, try the FAQs section or contact one the nerds for more information.

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