Energy Consumption of Clothes Washers

Photo of a washer


Key facts

  • The average annual unit energy consumption (UEC) of clothes washers decreased 85% between 1990 and 2016, partly because of the increased demand for front-loading units, which are more energy-efficient than top-loading clothes washers. In 2017, the average UEC of clothes washers was 140.3 kWh/yr.1
  • The average tub capacity of clothes washers increased 63% from 1990 to 2017. However, the average energy consumption per litre of tub volume decreased at a much faster rate (93%) during the same period.
  • In 1990, all clothes washers consumed at least 600 kWh/yr. By 2016, 64% consumed fewer than 200 kWh/yr.2

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Average annual unit energy consumption

The average annual UEC of clothes washers dropped by 88% between 1990 and 2017. This decrease was due to factors including:

  • Energy efficiency improvements, coinciding with the introduction of, and amendments to, the minimum energy performance standards (MEPS) in the Energy Efficiency Regulations
  • Increasing market share of front-loading units, which are more energy-efficient than top-loading units
  • More stringent MEPS and updated test procedures came into force in 2017, through amendments to the Energy Efficiency Regulations

See Choosing and Using Appliances With EnerGuide for more information.


Average annual UEC of clothes washers, 1990–2017 (kWh/yr)
Text version

Average annual UEC of clothes washers, 1990–2017 (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
2016 178.4
2017 140.3
Note: The vertical lines shown in 1995, 1998, 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.
The vertical black line indicates that energy consumption figures from 2017 onward incorporate changes introduced in Amendment 13 to the Energy Efficiency Regulations and are not directly comparable to previous years' data.

Front-loading versus top-loading washers

Front-loading clothes washers tend to consume less energy and water than top-loading clothes washers. In 2001, front-loading clothes washers accounted for only 16% of clothes washer shipments in Canada; by 2017, their market share had grown to 47%.

Although the energy efficiency of top-loading washers has improved substantially over the years, they still consumed almost twice as much energy (on average) as front-loading washers in 2017.


Average annual UEC of clothes washers by type, 2001–2017 (kWh/yr)
Text version

Average annual UEC of clothes washers by type, 2001–2017 (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
2016 112.2 238.5
2017 94.6 181.4

Tub capacity

The average tub capacity of clothes washers increased 63% from 1990 to 2017. However, the average energy consumption per tub litre has decreased at a much faster rate during the same period (93%). These changes indicates that consumers are washing substantially more clothes per load and using significantly less energy to do so.


Average tub capacity of clothes washers, 1990–2017 (litres)
Text version

Average tub capacity of clothes washers, 1990–2017 (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
2016 116.89
2017 118.75

Average energy consumption of clothes washers, 1990–2017 (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
2016 1.53
2017 1.18

Water consumption

Manufacturers have improved the overall water consumption of clothes washers over the years, which has affected their energy use and led to energy savings.3 Front-loading clothes washers tumble clothes through a small amount of water, which is different from top-loading clothes washers that rub clothes against an agitator in a tub that is full of water. Advanced top-loading washers flip or spin clothes through a reduced stream of water (instead of filling the entire tub).

Average water consumption for clothes washer models, 2005 and 2017
2005 2017 % Change
2005–2017
Average water used (litres per cycle) for each litre of tub size 1.45 0.50 -65.5

Distribution of shipments by unit energy consumption

In 1990, all clothes washers consumed at least 600 kWh/yr, and 64% of them consumed 1,000 kWh/yr or more. By 2016, 64% consumed fewer than 200 kWh/yr.


Distribution of clothes washers by average annual UEC, 1990–2017 (%)
Text version

Distribution of clothes washers by average annual UEC, 1990–2017 (%)

50–99.9 kWh/yr 100–149.9 kWh/yr 150–199.9 kWh/yr 200–299.9 kWh/yr 300–399.9 kWh/yr 400–599.9 kWh/yr 600–999.9 kWh/yr >1,000 kWh/yr
1990 0.0 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 0.0 34.3 65.7
1992 0.0 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 0.0 29.4 70.6
1994 0.0 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 0.0 55.6 44.4
1996 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.2 0.0 0.0 54.9 44.9
1997 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.5 1.2 0.0 49.4 47.9
1998 0.0 0.0 0.0 5.6 2.1 0.1 42.6 49.6
1999 0.0 0.0 0.0 10.0 0.6 1.3 61.7 26.4
2000 0.0 0.0 0.0 12.0 1.0 0.3 75.3 11.4
2001 0.0 0.0 0.0 13.0 4.1 0.1 79.9 3.0
2002 0.0 0.1 1.2 13.3 7.7 0.0 72.7 5.0
2003 0.0 0.3 4.7 16.8 6.8 4.3 65.6 1.6
2004 0.0 0.2 8.1 18.9 8.5 19.1 45.2 0.0
2005 0.0 2.8 14.0 24.6 6.8 31.7 20.1 0.0
2006 0.0 3.3 23.5 21.3 6.4 31.2 14.2 0.0
2007 0.0 5.9 32.6 16.8 15.6 26.6 2.5 0.0
2008 0.0 8.7 35.3 19.1 15.4 21.5 0.0 0.0
2009 0.0 15.9 29.1 28.2 16.2 10.5 0.2 0.0
2010 0.6 36.9 20.0 17.6 12.1 12.6 0.2 0.0
2011 7.0 39.8 23.2 7.7 5.3 16.9 0.2 0.0
2012 11.5 33.4 24.7 4.6 2.1 23.7 0.0 0.0
2013 20.8 24.5 22.3 6.6 0.7 25.1 0.0 0.0
2014 19.2 30.5 18.9 12.3 1.9 17.2 0.0 0.0
2015 18.0 30.3 15.7 23.9 6.5 5.6 0.0 0.0
2016 21.4 25.4 17.3 25.7 10.1 0.1 0.0 0.0
2017 30.0 35.2 24.3 5.8 4.8 0.0 0.0 0.0
Note: The vertical black line indicates that energy consumption figures from 2017 onward incorporate changes introduced in Amendment 13 to the Energy Efficiency Regulations and are not directly comparable to previous years' data.

  1. Test procedures for measuring energy efficiency were updated as a result of amendments to the Energy Efficiency Regulations that came into force in 2017. Test procedure changes for clothes washers included amendments meant to reflect updated research on their frequency of use and on consumer habits. The updated test procedures mean energy consumption figures from 2016 onward are not directly comparable to previous years' data.
  2. Natural Resources Canada, Energy Consumption of Major Household Appliances Shipped in Canada, 1990–2017 , Table 33.
  3. Natural Resources Canada, Office of Energy Efficiency, Equipment database.