Energy Consumption of Clothes Washers

Photo of a washer


Key facts

  • The average annual UEC of clothes washers decreased 85% between 1990 and 2015, partly because of the increased popularity of front-loading units.
  • The average tub capacity of clothes washers increased 57% from 1990 to 2015. However, the average energy consumption per tub litre decreased at a much faster rate (89%).
  • In 1990, all clothes washers consumed at least 600 kWh/yr. By 2015, 48% consumed fewer than 150 kWh/yr.

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Average annual unit energy consumption

The average annual unit energy consumption (UEC) of clothes washers dropped by 85% between 1990 and 2015. This decrease occurred due to factors including:

  • Energy efficiency improvements, coinciding with the introduction of and subsequent amendments to the minimum energy performance standards (MEPS)
  • Increasing popularity of front-loading units, which are more energy-efficient than top-loading units

Check out our publication Choosing and Using Appliances With EnerGuide (PDF, 934 KB) for more information.


Average annual UEC of clothes washers, 1990–2015 (kWh/yr)

Average annual UEC of clothes washers, 1990–2015 (kWh/yr)

Text version

Average annual UEC of clothes washers, 1990–2015 (kWh/yr)

Model year kWh/yr
1990 1218.0
1991 1197.4
1992 1175.5
1993 1094.1
1994 989.1
1995 965.9
1996 948.7
1997 930.1
1998 903.3
1999 859.9
2000 838.3
2001 810.1
2002 779.2
2003 708.4
2004 572.9
2005 443.6
2006 389.6
2007 287.2
2008 261.5
2009 233.8
2010 216.8
2011 207.7
2012 220.7
2013 220.3
2014 204.6
2015 186.3
Note: The vertical lines shown in 1995, 2004 and 2007 refer to the introduction of and subsequent amendments to the MEPS for clothes washers. The vertical lines shown in 2007, 2009 and 2011 refer to the ENERGY STAR specification updates.

Front-loading vs top-loading washers

Front-loading clothes washers tend to consume less energy and water than top-loading washers. In 2001, front-loading clothes washers accounted for only 16% of shipments in Canada; by 2015, their popularity grew to 49% of shipments.

Although the energy efficiency of top-loading washers has improved substantially over the years, they still consumed more than twice as much energy (on average) as front-loading washers in 2015.


Average annual UEC of clothes washers by type, 2001–2015 (kWh/yr)

Average annual UEC of clothes washers by type, 2001–2015 (kWh/yr)

Text version

Average annual UEC of clothes washers by type, 2001–2015 (kWh/yr)

Model year Front-loading Top-loading
2001 287.0 904.7
2002 300.6 871.1
2003 274.8 826.9
2004 258.4 702.3
2005 218.8 608.8
2006 202.7 555.0
2007 183.9 415.1
2008 179.4 387.2
2009 172.0 331.9
2010 148.3 318.7
2011 138.1 299.9
2012 131.5 319.0
2013 119.3 317.2
2014 119.4 284.9
2015 117.7 251.8

Tub capacity

The average tub capacity of clothes washers increased 57% from 1990 to 2015. However, the average energy consumption per tub litre has decreased at a much faster rate during the same period (89%). This indicates that consumers are washing substantially more clothes per load and using significantly less energy in doing so.


Tub capacity of clothes washers, 1990–2015 (litres)

Tub capacity of clothes washers, 1990–2015 (litres)

Text version

Tub capacity of clothes washers, 1990–2015 (litres)

Model year Average clothes washer tub capacity
1990 72.72
1991 76.08
1992 77.03
1993 77.13
1994 77.75
1995 78.02
1996 80.17
1997 79.63
1998 81.16
1999 81.68
2000 82.23
2001 83.13
2002 83.85
2003 84.07
2004 84.42
2005 84.98
2006 86.51
2007 87.12
2008 88.16
2009 91.68
2010 96.27
2011 100.47
2012 102.83
2013 105.23
2014 109.83
2015 114.05

Average energy consumption of clothes washers, 1990–2015 (kWh/litre)

Average energy consumption of clothes washers, 1990–2015 (kWh/litre)

Text version

Average energy consumption of clothes washers, 1990–2015 (kWh/litre)

Model year Average energy consumption
1990 16.75
1991 15.74
1992 15.26
1993 14.18
1994 12.72
1995 12.38
1996 11.83
1997 11.68
1998 11.13
1999 10.53
2000 10.19
2001 9.75
2002 9.29
2003 8.43
2004 6.79
2005 5.22
2006 4.50
2007 3.30
2008 2.97
2009 2.55
2010 2.25
2011 2.07
2012 2.15
2013 2.09
2014 1.86
2015 1.63

Water consumption

Manufacturers have improved the overall water consumption of clothes washers over the years, which has an impact on energy use and leads to energy savings (Natural Resources Canada, Office of Energy Efficiency, Equipment database). Front-loading washers tumble clothes through a small amount of water instead of rubbing clothes against an agitator in a full tub. Advanced top-loading washers flip or spin clothes through a reduced stream of water (rather than filling up the entire washer).

Average water consumption for clothes washer models, 2005–2015
2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2015 % Change
2005–2015
Average water used (litres per cycle)
for each litre of tub size
1.5 1.3 1.2 1.1 1.1 0.8 0.7 -52.4

Distribution of shipments by unit energy consumption

In 1990, all clothes washers consumed at least 600 kWh/yr, and 64% of them consumed 1000 kWh/yr or more.

By 2015, all shipped clothes washers consumed fewer than 600 kWh/yr, and 48% consumed fewer than 150 kWh/yr.


Distribution of clothes washers by average annual UEC, 1990–2015 (%)

Distribution of clothes washers by average annual UEC, 1990–2015 (%)

Text version

Distribution of clothes washers by average annual UEC, 1990–2015 (%)

50–99.9 kWh/yr 100–149.9 kWh/yr 150–199.9 kWh/yr 200–399.9 kWh/yr 400–599.9 kWh/yr 600–999.9 kWh/yr 1000–1849.9 kWh/yr
1990 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 35.7 64.3
1991 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 34.3 65.7
1992 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 22.7 77.3
1993 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 29.4 70.6
1994 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 49.7 50.3
1995 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 55.6 44.4
1996 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.2 0.0 54.9 44.9
1997 0.0 0.0 0.0 2.7 0.0 49.4 47.9
1998 0.0 0.0 0.0 7.7 0.1 42.6 49.6
1999 0.0 0.0 0.0 10.6 1.3 61.7 26.4
2000 0.0 0.0 0.0 13.0 0.3 75.3 11.4
2001 0.0 0.0 0.0 17.0 0.1 79.9 3.0
2002 0.0 0.1 1.2 21.0 0.0 72.7 5.0
2003 0.0 0.3 4.7 23.5 4.3 65.6 1.6
2004 0.0 0.2 8.1 27.4 19.1 45.2 0.0
2005 0.0 2.8 14.0 31.4 31.7 20.1 0.0
2006 0.0 3.3 23.5 27.8 31.2 14.2 0.0
2007 0.0 5.9 32.6 32.4 26.6 2.5 0.0
2008 0.0 8.7 35.3 34.4 21.5 0.0 0.0
2009 0.0 15.9 29.1 44.3 10.5 0.2 0.0
2010 0.6 36.9 20.0 29.8 12.6 0.2 0.0
2011 7.0 39.8 23.2 13.0 16.9 0.2 0.0
2012 11.5 33.4 24.7 6.7 23.7 0.0 0.0
2013 20.8 24.5 22.3 7.2 25.1 0.0 0.0
2014 19.2 30.5 18.9 14.2 17.2 0.0 0.0
2015 18.0 30.3 15.7 30.4 5.6 0.0 0.0