How much does it cost to run a washing machine and how can you make it cheaper?

Want to know how much does it cost to run a washing machine in a bid to keep your energy bills under control? We’ve crunched the numbers to find out

close up of a hand turning on a washing machine
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Many people will be wondering how much does it cost to run a washing machine and how can you lower the cost, especially with energy bills set to remain high for the foreseeable future.

Millions of families have been worried about how much their energy bills will cost (opens in new tab) for most of 2022, especially since the energy price cap (opens in new tab) rose by 54% in April 2022. At the end of August it was announced that the cap would increase again, by a staggering 80% from 1 October. But thankfully, the Government has intervened and introduced the Energy Price Guarantee (opens in new tab). This is effectively an energy bill freeze and it will remain at its current level of £2,500 per year until April 2023. It will then increase by 20% for a further 12 months, taking the typical annual energy bill to £3,000. 

Even though bills didn't rise as much as originally feared in October, they are still more expensive than in 2021, so it's important to understand how to save energy in homes (opens in new tab) and keep your bills as low as possible. 

Goodto.com's Money Editor Sarah Handley (opens in new tab) says: "Your washing machine is one of those appliances where with a couple of small changes you could significantly reduce how much energy you use, reducing your bill in the process."  

 How much does it cost to run a washing machine?  

A washing machine costs between 16p and 31p to run per load. That works out as between £33.32 and £64.60 per year. This is based on a 8kg drum washing machine (suitable for medium-sized families) with an energy rating of between A and D that's used an average of four times per week (opens in new tab)

Your exact running costs will depend on the model of your washing machine, its energy rating and how often you use it. 

Below we have looked at examples of 8kg washing machines with different energy ratings to see how the costs compare. 

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 Cost per useCost per monthAnnual cost
A-rated washing machine16p£2.78£33.32
B-rated washing machine19p£3.29£39.44
C-rated washing machine29p£4.96£59.50
D-rated washing machine31p£5.38£64.60

Appliances, like washing machines, are categorised by energy efficiency ratings from A to G, with A being the most energy efficient and G being the least efficient.

The better rated washing machines use less energy to do their job which means they don't cost as much to run. Lower rated washing machines use more energy and so cost more to run. But higher rated washing machines cost more to buy.

Ben Gallizzi (opens in new tab), energy expert at Uswitch.com, said: “More efficient washing machines may be more costly, so you need to weigh up whether the savings from lower running costs are worth the extra expense.

"Work out your budget and see what rating you can go for. If a C rating or D rating is in your budget, then that’s a lot better than an E of F rating."

The above figures only take electricity costs into consideration, but there are also water costs to think about. Research by website In The Wash (opens in new tab), shows that the average washing machine uses 46.28 litres of water per cycle, and the average cost of water per litre in the UK is 0.3p. This means the average washing machine uses 14p of water per use, taking your total costs to between 30p and 45p per cycle, depending on the efficiency of the machine. 

Household appliance running costs Oct 2022

(Image credit: Future)

What’s the cheapest time to run your washing machine? 

The cheapest time to run your washing machine will depend on the type of energy tariff you’re on. 

A spokesperson for home appliance brand Beko (opens in new tab) told us: “If your tariff is not charged at a flat rate, running your washing machine at times when electricity is cheaper, such as early in the morning or late in the evening, is a great way to reduce costs.”

However, to benefit from this you will need to have an Economy 7 or Economy 10 electricity meter. These give you cheaper electricity for seven or 10 hours a day, usually at night. But the day time rates then tend to be more expensive. 

For those who are not on one of these tariffs (which is most households), a flat rate of electricity will usually be charged, so it won’t matter what time of day or night you use your washing machine.

How to cut the cost of running your washing machine

There are many ways to cut the running costs of your washing machine, from cutting down on the number of washes you do and making sure you only wash full loads to using your machine's eco mode or choosing a lower temperature. 

Energy expert at Property Rescue (opens in new tab), Callum Woodstock says: “We’re all doing our best at the moment to cut down on costs and, while most of us can’t manage without our washing machines, there are a few things you can do to minimise the cost of doing your laundry.” 

Make sure you wash full loads

Washing small loads multiple times a week is an expensive way to use your washing machine. It uses the same amount of energy (and water), and therefore costs the same, to run a half-full washing machine than it does to run the appliance with a full load. 

If you can, wait until you have a full load before you put the washing on to keep costs as low as possible (unless your washing machine has a half-load setting). You might even find you can reduce the number of washes you need to do per week. This not only reduces your energy consumption and keeps your bills as low as they can be, but also reduces wear and tear on your washing machine, which means it's likely to last longer before it needs to be replaced.

But it is important not to overload your machine, and that could cause damage to the drum and make it less efficient. 

Wash your clothes at a lower temperature

Washing your clothes at a lower temperature can help you cut back on energy costs. Lower temperatures use less energy and while older models are likely to have an option to wash at 30°C, a 20°C option has been a compulsory design feature on newer models since 2013 thanks to the European Union’s Ecodesign initiative (opens in new tab).

The Energy Saving Trust (opens in new tab) says that washing at lower temperatures is particularly worth considering with clothing that is not heavily soiled. 

You'll also find that many laundry detergents are now much more effective at cleaning clothes at lower temperatures, so there's no need to worry about your clothes not being clean enough. You might also find that liquid detergents are more effective when washing at lower temperatures rather than powder alternatives. 

According to Which? (opens in new tab) making that switch from 40°C to 30°C will cut your energy usage by 38% a year, while going from 30°C to 20°C will cut your energy usage by 62%. 

Invest in a hard water filter

If you live in a hard water area, you might find it harder to get clothes clean in the washing machine. 

Home water treatment expert at BOS, Gene Fitzgerald (opens in new tab) explains “This can, unfortunately, increase your bills as you will tend to use more detergent and wash your laundry at a hotter temperature.

“Investing in a hard water filter and using special hard water laundry detergent can help you to get the best out of your wash without flushing your cash away.” 

Wash on eco mode

Using your washing machine's eco mode can be a really useful way to cut your running costs. 

A Beko spokesperson says: “The eco programme is the most energy and water efficient programme to use on a washing machine. By selecting the eco programme as often as possible, you can save a significant amount of energy and water for a standard load; whilst maintaining excellent cleaning results.”

According to Currys (opens in new tab), 90% of a washing machine's energy consumption comes from heating up the water for washing. But while an eco mode might use less water and wash at a lower temperature, it tends to be a longer cycle to clean your clothes effectively. So while the eco mode might not save time, it will save energy. 

But if you are trying to remove some really tough stains, it's worth doing those on a regular cycle for the most effective clean.

Even if you only use the eco mode occasionally, rather than for every wash, it'll have a positive effect on the amount of energy you use. 

Use laundry balls

Laundry balls are designed to replace the use of laundry detergent when you use your washing machine. As well as being more cost-effective compared to detergent, they are also better for the environment.

Laundry balls are usually made from plastic or rubber and contain tiny bio-ceramic balls which wash your clothes naturally, without the need to use detergent. They can last for up to 1,000 washes and can cost between £5 and £20, depending on the brand. 

ecoegg | View at ecoegg (opens in new tab)

ecoegg | View at ecoegg (opens in new tab), Amazon (opens in new tab), Tesco (opens in new tab), Wilko (opens in new tab), Robert Dyas (opens in new tab), Sainsbury's (opens in new tab), Lakeland (opens in new tab)

RRP: from £9.99 for 70 washes | Scents: Fresh Linen, Spring Blossom, Unfragranced 

Suitable for sensitive skin, the ecoegg is an environmentally-friendly alternative to laundry detergent and fabric softener. The smallest ecoegg will last for 70 washes, meaning it costs around 14p per wash (10p per wash if you buy refill pellets).

Maintain your washing machine

Maintaining your machine is key to keep it working at its most efficient level. And there are various points to keep an eye on: 

  • Avoid overloading the machine - it could cause damage and result in a less-effective clean 
  • Clean filters on a monthly basis
  • Check pockets before putting the clothes in the drum - look for loose change, tissues and plastic which can get caught in the machine 
  • Too much detergent can cause clogs and make your washing machine less effective, so make sure you follow the instructions on the packaging for how much to use. 

Think about how often you wash certain items

Some clothes do not need to be washed every time you wear them so try to be mindful about only washing items when necessary. 

Laundry detergent brand Persil (opens in new tab) advises you should wash a pair of jeans after four to five wears, unless they look or smell dirty. 

When it comes to towels, bath towels can be washed once a week, while hand towels should be washed every two to three days. Face and tea towels should be washed after each use. 

Bedsheets should be washed every week or at least every two weeks. 

It's likely that most clothing doesn't need to be washed after each wear, so trying airing items instead. But if anything looks or smells dirty, then it's destined for the laundry basket. 

What to look for if you need to buy a new washing machine

If you need to buy a new washing machine, then it makes sense to buy the most energy efficient model you can afford to keep running costs as low as possible.  

Check the energy efficiency rating

“Most electrical appliances come with an energy rating between A-G. When shopping for a new washing machine, opt for something closer to an A rating as this will be much more energy efficient when in use,” says Paul Newman at Housetastic.co.uk (opens in new tab).  

Check the modes

When buying a new washing machine, it’s important to look at what modes it offers. Make sure it suits your needs well, as well as being energy efficient. Some good ones to look out for are eco mode and quick wash, which can wash loads in around 30 minutes. If you need to wash delicates, a hand wash feature would be useful to look out for. 

The size of the drum is just as important

Choose a drum size that suits the size of your household. A 6kg drum is usually sufficient for someone who lives alone, 7kg-9kg drums are great for couples and medium-sized families, while a 10kg drum size or more is better suited to large families. 


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