there has been a gradual change for the past ten years or so in the efficiency of washer and dryers. the machines have gotten so smart, but we will start with the basics.
widths can vary from 27 to 29.5 in width, same with dryers.
depth is important too. as machines get bigger in capacity they get bigger in depth. measure what you have now, paying attention to doorway openings and such. if you have it in a closet, you will be severely limited in what you can put in there. with the depth of the dryer add 3 inches because of the lint duct.
some people still have a basic washer with a large center agitator to move the clothes around. most people will overfill the water setting and use to much soap. why? because that is how they have always done it. most older people do not want to change, will quickly say that and I do not try to change their mind because they will complain and return their purchase. never mind the fact that that they waste a tremendous water and their water bill is way to high, capacity is between 3.2 cubic feet and 3.9 cubic feet.
the government mandated that the manufacturers make the washing machines more energy efficient. so they did!
use the high efficiency soap for todays new machines.
they are low sudsing, and you use less soap to do the job. the warmer the water, the better job the soap can do.
all machines use cold water for rinsing.
the tub has a tilt to it so that the water, soap and clothes come together. there are paddles that move the clothes around. the design mostly eliminates off balance loads. hundreds of small holes allow for the spin cycle to eliminate the water. the more cycles to choose from the better the clothes will clean and last longer too. most people will still pick "normal" and hope for the best. front loaders use about 12-14 gallons of water. because they can't see how much water is used, most people will not complain about the lack of water.
capacity up to 5.0 cubic feet.
people are amazed that 4 inches of water and that "little agitator" will clean the clothes, but it does. top loaders use about 16 gallons of water. many have clear tops and many people will watch the loads wash because of that.
most machines will show a picture of how much water an old machine used and how much is used now.
just about all dryers have sensors that measure the moisture inside the drum, when there is no more moisture, the machine will go to cool down and then shut off. unless you have something real thick, this works real well.
some machines offer a removable rack that sits inside the dryer. great for drying out sneakers or delicate clothes. the drum and air moves around but the rack does not move. eliminates the shoe banging noise.
many machines now have a steam option in the washer and dryer. steam in the washer helps breakdown heavy dirt. in the dryer it can refreshen an item worn previously or take out most wrinkles in something hanging in the closet or drawer.
pedestals lift up front load washer and dryers to a more comfortable working height. eliminates moving heavy loads while bending. most run about 200 dollars a piece. expensive yes, but you will be thankful you bought them. the height adds about 15 inches to the overall height of the machine.
top load washers don't need them.
front load washer and dryers can be stacked, dryer on top of the washer. mostly to save width space. a stacking kit is needed (Velcro and clips are used) or else the dryer will fall off. there are a few exceptions to the machines that can be stacked.
one piece stack units. you have all seen them, washer with the dryer attached to the top. sometimes you don't have a choice and have to use one, better then nothing. slowly getting better.
dryers for tight spaces
if space is tight, you will need to use what is called a flat back dryer, capacity at 6 cubic feet. most dryers have a bulge at the back to give a machine additional size. sometimes that is all you can use, deal with it.
direct drive machines
if you have a choice get one with this feature. ball bearings spin the washer drum, much quieter and last much longer. go with it if you can.
someone asked me is there a top loading dryer to go along with a top loading washer, there is, it is made by Fisher and Pakel, not available everywhere, they are out of New Zealand.
some machines now come equipped with smart phone apps that allow a diagnosis with your phone. you can also operate it from a distance.
washer as a dryer
some machines now have a drying fan built into the washer to dry the clothes if you forget to take them out, takes about 16 hours, featured on whirlpool and maytag
this is all off the top of my head.
my job is to take features and show you the benefits, making it as easy as possible for you to use.
i have one more post on appliance to go.