1. Do you need a washer or a washer dryer? Washer dryers save space and cost less than buying two machines, but they tend to go wrong more often and you obviously can't wash and dry at the same time if you have just one machine. If you have the space, we'd thoroughly recommend buying a separate washer and dryer. They're far more reliable.
2. Size matters. If you're single, or a couple, or have very clean children, you might be better off selecting a washing machine with a smaller capacity, say around 6kg. But if you have a larger family, choose a machine with a large capacity, perhaps around 10kg. This will save you money and time, with fewer washes needed. Make sure that your machine offers a half-load option for maximum flexibility.
3. The spin speed of washing machines varies considerably. By choosing a speed of at least 1400 rpm you'll find that your clothes come out dryer, meaning less time hanging up to dry or in the tumble dryer. By spending less time in the tumble dryer, you can save a significant amount of money. For example, if you spin at 1400 rpm you'll use 20% less energy to tumble dry the load than if you spin at 1000 rpm. That's a saving of between 5p and 10p per load in drying costs, which should more than pay for itself over the lifetime over the appliance. But remember also that the faster the spin speed, the noisier the washing machine will be, and the more quickly the machine will tend to wear out. If you're buying a cheap machine, it's probably best to opt for a low spin speed.
4. You'll also save running costs by choosing a machine with a higher efficiency rating, although this usually has to be balanced against the higher purchase cost. Machines are graded from A to G, with A being the most efficient. An A grade machine uses about half the energy of a G rated machine. Most modern washing machines are graded A or B, so in practice you shouldn't let the efficiency rating influence your choice. It's much better for the environment to buy a machine that will last longer before it needs replacing.
5. Some machines offer a greater choice of programmes. This can help you to make your clothes last longer by choosing an appropriate wash for delicate fabrics, and can save you money by washing different garments at different temperatures. But if you're single you may find that you end up washing everything on half-load, or saving up your clothes until you have enough. This is perhaps a feature that will be of more benefit to larger families.
6. Colour. The days when most machines were white are long gone. You can choose silver or stainless steel or black or something even more exotic. Express your personality!
7. Some washing machines come with digital displays that tell you all kinds of information about the current wash, such as total wash time, time remaining, etc. If you're a man, you'll want this feature, obviously. But how many men really do their own laundry? Or are we being unduly sexist?
8. Top loading washing machines are relatively rare in the UK, but more common in the States. Top loaders tend to have greater capacity. Consider whether a top loader might work in your house.
9. Choose the right brand. Some brands have a good reputation for reliability; others don't. Read washing machine reviews on the web to get a feel, but bear in mind that a lot of people write reviews only when their washing machine breaks down! Good reviews of washing machines are hard to find, so don't assume that just because a brand has more bad reviews than good that it really is that bad. We'd recommend Miele, Bosch and Zanussi. A durable washing machine may last 20 years and is a wise investment.
10. Don't pay for features that you won't use. And don't assume that by buying a more expensive machine you're getting better quality. Generally, all the machines made by a particular manufacturer will share most components and will be built to the same standards. You won't get a longer lasting machine by buying a manufacturer's top model. In fact, the top model will have lots more features to go wrong compared with the basic model. But you might get a longer lasting machine by buying a more expensive brand. But even this isn't a rule. See the previous tip.
11. Shop around on the internet, obviously. Use price comparison websites to find the best deals. But choose from a retailer that you trust. Sometimes you get what you pay for! By the way, that was eleven tips in total. This last tip was a reward for reading all the way to the end of the article!