Earlier this year, we had to buy a new washer. I shared the great deal I got, and promised a review. Now that it's been six months, I have enough info - including data from our electric and gas bills.
The washer we got is a Maytag Epic (sorry, I don't remember the model number). It's a front-loading high efficiency washer. It holds four cubic feet, so it's large enough to wash a queen size comforter. That was important to me, since with two little kids, we never know when or what kind of emergency laundry will need to be done.
One of my concerns with getting an HE washer was performance. Having read that top-loading HE washers don't really get clothes clean, I was a bit wary. But we've had no problems at all.
I like that even though it's a front-loading washer, I can still stop the cycle for the first few minutes and throw in a stray sock or towel that escaped my initial loading. I risk having some water drip onto the floor when I do this, but since the washer is in the garage on a concrete floor, a little bit of water doesn't pose a problem.
I love having a drawer where I can add liquid fabric softener at the start of the cycle. I used to never use liquid fabric softener because I couldn't be bothered to remember to go to the garage to add it mid-cycle. But now that that's not a concern, I find myself using liquid fabric softener exclusively. It smells better, and also seems to be on sale more frequently. (I do, however, recommend against the Target brand, only because the bottle leaks when you're pouring.)
The drawer does pose a bit of a problem, in that water often pools there. Opening the drawer after the clothes have been removed from the washer allows the water to drain out, but of course, I don't always remember to do this. That, in turn, has resulted in a little bit of mildew buildup, though it's easy to remove.
The one thing I absolutely hate about this washer is the timer. When I start an average load, the timer starts off at 40 minutes. Everything seems to go along fine, until the last three minutes. Somehow those last three minutes last four or five times as long. In fact, I've found myself standing in the garage with the timer at 0:01 for a good five minutes, if not longer. It doesn't help that even on the loudest setting, the end buzzer can't be heard outside of the garage.
It's a little harder to find HE detergent on sale, partly because the drugstores don't always carry it - especially in my preferred variety of unscented, uncolored, etc. So my detergent stockpile is not what I would like it to be. This is one area where we are spending a little bit more money than we used to.
Efficiency-wise, the washer has not had enough of an impact to justify the cost. In other words, I would never recommend someone buy an HE washer to replace an older washer that's working just fine. We are using a little less hot water each month, but not significantly less. And our electricity usage has remained the same, since HE washers run longer than traditional washers (presumably they need to agitate longer because they use less water). However, the longer running time of the washer seems to offset somewhat by the shorter running time of the dryer, since our clothes come out less wet than they did out of the old washer. It will be quite a few years, however, before we recoup the cost of the washer in hot water savings.
The Bottom Line
Overall, I like our washer. But I wouldn't recommend it, simply because of that darned timer. If that wouldn't bother you, though, then by all means, this is a reliable washer at a good price (especially after rebates).