New top loading washers are becoming more efficient as of 2015, but front load washers are still in the lead. Front load washers use less water, hold larger loads and have drums that spin faster, leaving clothes roughly 10 percent drier than top loaders.
In 2014, Reviewed.com compiled data from its top five washers in both the top load and front load categories. It found that, on a scale of 1 to 10, the average cleaning performance for a front load machine scored 7.9, while the top loader scored 7.4. On water usage, the front loader used an average of 10.8 gallons of water, while the top loader used 15.8 gallons. Energy efficiency on the front loaders averaged a 6.2, while on the top loaders, the score was 4.0.
Front loaders hold larger loads because they don't have an agitator. Some newer top loaders have a wash plate instead of the agitator. It pushes the clothes up, down and around and frees up drum space for more clothes.
Another plus for front loaders is they can reduce electricity usage by as much as 50 percent if an electric water heater is used. As of 2014, when the Reviewed.com study was done, front load washers were about $200 more than the top load models. The savings in water and electricity bills eventually makes up the difference.