Curse of Government Washing Machines
Karen De Coster
by Karen De Coster: We
Should Do What the Government Says Is Good for Us
never stop to think about the impact that government mandates have
on every single facet of their daily lives. Take just one example,
and that is the interminable string of decrees on the part of the
governmental-environmental-green complex and the ensuing repercussions
on the lives of individuals.
This interesting article
on Epinions discusses the impact of federal energy efficiency
standards for washing machines, including (1) the myths of energy
savings (2) the long-term, negative environmental impacts of the
high-efficiency machines, and (3) the cost to consumers of the government’s
high-efficiency, short-lived washers. The writer notes:
large appliance products are now being engineered to meet priorities
that do not include a reasonable interval between repairs and a
service life commensurate with their initial cost.
efficiency, high-speed spin washers (both top and front-load) invariably
possess a motherboard and a host of electronic parts, and
according to those who repair them for a living, washers
crammed with multiple electronic sensors, touchpads, digital displays,
and miniaturized circuit boards tend to need more frequent
repair – i.e. – replacement. They must be kept
on an electrical circuit with functioning surge protection,
because their vulnerable and expensive solid-state components
can easily degrade or burn out with electrical power surges.
points out that the federal government’s 2007 Energy Star standards
have, for the most part, eliminated the traditional design for washing
machines because those machines cannot obtain the government’s certifications,
unlike the newer devices that manufacturers have turned out to specifically
meet federal requirements.
I never bought
into the high-efficiency (HE) concept, and in fact I have always
despised the newfangled front-loader design. I was right when I
assumed the opinion that those atrocities were nothing more than
an environmental stunt and marketing scam, backed by the force of
politics and special interests. Consumers have been sucked into
buying these things because of their keen looks and pretty colors.
Almost everyone I know has a front-loading machine.
2009, I still had my mother's old machines that were 20-ish years
old, and they worked great, for years, before they both began to
slowly poop out. When the dryer ceased to dry in one cycle, and
the agitator on my washing machine began to puncture numerous holes
in my clothes, it was time to get new appliances. I bought a Kenmore
HE washer and dryer combo, on Black Friday at Sears, at half-price.
I did not seek, or want, HE appliances. But I did desire a washer
without an agitator, and mostly because of my agonizing two-year
battle with my old washer to keep my clothes free of holes. I was
planted firmly in the anti-agitator camp. So I wanted an agitator-free
top loader, but since those models were all HE, I walked away with
the purchase of a new, top-loading HE washer and matching dryer.
I should have listened to the appliance salesman at Sears who told
me, "You really shouldn’t blame the agitator." In retrospect,
it is clear that I blew it on this purchase. And that agitates
the heck out of me.
high-efficiency thing has done nothing but break down since I bought
it. It once ate, and I mean shredded to bits, an entire
blanket, causing the washer to jam up, and the dang water could
not empty out of the washer. Service call. The water sat there for
two days and stunk up the basement after I gave up on bailing it
out. The appliance repairman told me that high-efficiency washers
tend to eat delicate stuff because of the high spin speed. Also,
I was told, "Oh, you can't wash rugs. These things spin
too fast and the weight of rugs will break the drums and other parts.
You need to take your rugs to the laundromat." I
had been washing my rugs due to hosting a perpetual dog hair festival
in my house, and I'll be darn if I will own a washing machine that
insists that I go to a laundromat to wash them.
So this piece
of junk breaks all the time (I have the 5-year, extended warranty),
it eats delicate things, it can't spin rugs, you have to use special
HE soap, and it has so many computer boards and electronic parts
that it breaks down more quickly than you can say, "my computer
is hour-glassing again..." Also, I've had to spin and re-spin clothes
many times because the washer doesn't spin the clothes dry enough,
thus leading to throwing eighty pounds of water-logged clothes in
the dryer, therefore sucking up even more energy from dryer use
and repeating drying cycles, and potentially breaking my dryer from
the excess weight load. I’ve set my dryer on back-to-back 70-minute
cycles in order to dry saturated clothes. Energy savings indeed!
Just like the government-mandated, low-flow toilets where the flow
is so low that they don't move molehills, let alone mountains.
Well, my washing
machine broke again two weeks ago, and if I could lift it
like I can lift a laptop, I’m sure I would have hurled it across
the basement. Eventually, the machine started working again when
I fussed with it a bit, and that lasted a couple of washes while
I held my breath waiting for the machine to spite me once and for
all. So indeed, it broke again last week, and it took forever for
me to get the lid lock to unlock (!) so I could get my clothes out
and take them to the laundromat. I had to invent a hatful of magician’s
tricks just to get the jaws open to get at my clothes. Then it brazenly
hissed at me, followed by the beeping and flashing of numbers and
letters in the display in an obsessive-compulsive rage. What a useless
piece of crap.
For the most
part, we shall not put the blame the manufacturer – instead, blame
the government and the politicization of every aspect of our lives.
Here’s another passage from the writer of the article.
assumes that all high-efficiency, high-speed-spin washer
owners – regardless of brand/model - are satisfied with
the cleanliness of their clothes and aren't fudging with extra
wash or rinse cycles, nor using more hot water in order to increase
cleaning power (or to reduce widely-reported high-efficiency
front-load washer odors). For those of you who don't
precisely match the assumptions in the government model (washing
mostly in cold water, using an indoor/outdoor clothesline
or drying rack, using a high efficiency solar water
heater or heat pump, or washing fewer than eight family-size
loads of laundry per week), don’t count on saving much money
before you pay to replace that washer again!
I’m tired of
being without a washer and waiting for a Saturday repair appointment
or taking time off during the week to meet the repairman. And while
I wait for the appointment, I drag my clothes to the laundromat,
burning $4/gallon petroleum to get there and back, and when I get
there I use age-old, 1980s-style, "inefficient" machines
to waste the water I was supposedly saving with my new machine that
wastes energy, time, money, parts, landfill space, and human energy.
The Sears repairman
came by, and I noted he loves to talk. He cornered me in the kitchen
with a long conversation following his news, "Sorry, I don’t
carry the part you need. It’s going to be several days before we
can get the part." I asked him why these newer things were
such pieces of crapola, hoping to engage him in one of my dissident
This man needed
no impetus from me – he went on and on about how the government
has created these malfunctioning monstrosities, why he will never
buy a modern washing machine, and why everyone should look for the
more reliable fix-up relics from the past. He fessed up that everyone
in the industry – manufacturers, retailers, repairmen, etc. – know
that these government-inefficient contraptions are no good, and
the challenges of high-efficiency design means they can never be
built to last without triggering significant cost increases to the
consumer. Thus, in order to manufacture and sell washing appliances
at an affordable price, the producers are squeezed to design and
build malfunctioning junk that "saves the planet" while
the consumers of these products are saddled with green-induced landfill
the government’s green totalitarianism has created a massive economic
inefficiency with its energy-and-money-wasting, "high efficiency"
- On a macro
level, there exists a diversion of resources due to manufacturers
rushing to meet government "voluntary compliance" standards
and mandates. Manufacturers are forced to rush shoddy designs
to market to meet mandates instead of strategically directing
long-term resources toward research and design implementation
as desired by consumers in the marketplace.
- Wasted energy
resources through repeated cycles (spin, wash, extra drying, or
otherwise) on the part of users to maintain previous standards
for the cleanliness, dryness, and wrinkle effect of clothes.
maintenance and repair cost to consumers over the life of the
machine due to the mandates forcing manufacturers to implement
substandard product design.
inefficiency to consumers due to the shorter life span of the
- Huge landfill
graveyards of non-repairable machines that are discarded because
they are too costly to be fixed.
When my warranty
runs out in 2014, this puppy is going on Craigslist as a "cheap,
damaged good," and if that doesn't get any takers, out to the curb
she goes, for the garbage pickers. I'll buy a used, old-fashioned,
ugly, water-hogging, rebuilt, grandma washer, as sold by many local
fellas who make a living fixing up and selling used appliances.
Until then, I'll keep washing my rugs and keep breaking this thing,
and Sears will keep fixing it, on their dime.
Coster, CPA [send
her mail] is an accounting/finance professional in the
healthcare industry and a freelance writer, blogger, speaker, and
sometimes unpaid troublemaker. She writes about libertarian stuff,
economics, financial markets, the medical establishment, the Corporate
State, health totalitarianism, and other essentially, anything that
encroaches upon the freedom of her fellow human beings. When she
has a few moments of spare time she engages functional fitness,
adventure cycling, photography, conversations with friends, and
visiting wine regions. This is her LewRockwell.com
archive and her Mises.org
archive. Check out her
website. Follow her on Twitter @karendecoster.
2012 Karen DeCoster
Best of Karen De Coster