New DOE dish and clothes washer guidelines could save Americans up to $600

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is putting appliance manufacturers and homeowners to task by enforcing new energy-efficient and standards on washer machines and dishwashers.

The new guidelines, which were announced in a news release from the DOE in late May, are aimed at saving consumers between $400 and $600 dollars over the lifespan of the appliances.

Front-loading clothes washers will be required to conserve on average 15 percent more electricity than they do at current rates and use 35 percent less water, while top-loading machines will have to save 33 percent more electricity and use 19 percent less water by 2013.

For dishwashers to hit the market, they will be required to use an average of 15 percent less electricity and 20 percent less water by 2015, according to the DOE.

The new standards were designed in collaboration with leading appliance manufacturers, environmental groups and energy efficiency advocates. The DOE estimates that though the less wasteful appliances will cost more for consumers than many current models, the expense will be offset by savings on electric and water bills within two years of ownership.

"Once again, these updated standards show that energy efficiency advocates can find common ground with manufacturers and with consumer and environmental organizations on making leading-edge technology the 'new normal' to benefit every consumer in the country," said Kateri Callahan, president of contributing party Alliance to Save Energy, in the release.

A study conducted by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) found that some washing machines and dishwashers on the market have already started meeting the DOE's high standards, so homeowners can look into purchasing cleaner appliances immediately. To make the home even more energy efficient, an energy audit can be conducted by a home inspection contractor that would highlight other ways a homeowner can conserve.