I air dry as much of my stuff as possible. Mostly the only stuff I tumble dry anymore is towels, which get too crunchy and scratchy if I air dry them. I just hang the clothes on hangers in the basement near the laundry machines. It takes more of my time to do but I don't have to hear the dryer running and I don't have to pay.
Stores like Home Depot tend to cheap stuff down as much as possible. Don't expect a quality appliance from Home Depot.
One example: Several years ago I bought a snowblower from HD. It was the popular orange machine, so I figured it would be a quality product. Turns out that the manufacturer makes a "special" version of the machine for HD, with different parts. In fact my local snowblower repair store would not service my model (even though they sold/serviced that same brand) because it had different parts. And of course trying to get HD to do minor repairs is a joke, they can only "send it out". In that case, I should have spent the extra $200 to buy the "real" version locally (which never would have broke to begin with).
Second example: I had a tenant for several years who installed flooring. He was the kind of guy who had a great price and was very stubborn about quality (and as you can imagine, cheap and good flooring guys don't have a lot of money leftover for themselves but that is another story). He explained to me that if you bought flooring tiles from HD, although they looked & felt similar to ones from a "standard" or "premium" flooring store in fact they were different - the "barely within spec" tiles went to HD, and the best ones went to "real" flooring stores. For example, when a product line starts up, it takes a while for a product to be within spec, and HD would typically get the first batch of "barely within spec" tiles. This would lead to slight color and size variations in the tiles, instead of good uniformity across the whole floor.
I'm not trying to bash HD - they have good prices, but you also have to understand their business model. Another substantiation of "you get what you pay for"...
Most larger retailers have a model made just for them. It may be essentially the same, with a minor change from the model made for their competitor, so it makes price comparisons between different retailers difficult. Also, retailers like Lowes and Home Depot will only price match on the exact model number they have in stock. If the model # is 1 number off, they won't price match it.
Back in 06 I used to repair major appliances when the front loaders came out. I buy the old fashioned top loaders with knobs, no electronics. Most of my service calls were to replace eletronics on the newer machines. I buy all of my stuff used now, you can find some great buys on Craigslist. I got a gas dryer for 90 bucks that was 3 years old. I got a stacked washer dryer for 200, they all have knobs and have a life span of 15 to 20 years.
My cousin has been a jeans collector for 10 years, she shops all the swap meets and has some cool Levis. She never uses a dryer, line dry only, and some of her pants have lasted 15 years.
I dont know if youve seen it, but they now have a hanging cabinet, that has racks and bars in it, you hand your clothes on it and a low wattage fan blows air through the cabinet and your close dry like they do on a clothes line. You can make one out of a cabinet and a computer fan.
Yeah, this HE crap doesn't wash out well when people start comparing real numbers on machine purchase costs vs. maintenance and energy savings.
We only bought ours from HD because it was simply an unbeatable price at the time. Everywhere else was a solid $100 more.
As a rule however, we only go to HD for big ticket items at bargain prices and for things we can't get anywhere else. The rest of the time we try to stick to the locally owned competitor that puts HD customer service to shame and often beats them on many item prices.
I buy HE machines for my laundry plant, and one of them is a small home unit for doing small work in. The last machine ran 2 weeks short of 5 years. Running 13 hrs/day, 6 days/wk I estimate that machine had the equivalent of 40 or 50 years worth of residential duty wear on it by the time I replaced it. Even then, the machine could have been repaired, but I felt that the cost of the parts to keep it running reliably ($250) wasn't worth it on a 5 year old machine with so much wear. I replaced it with a new HE front loader from the scratch & dent aisle in Lowe's for $440.
Front loaders are inefficient, require more soap and water, don't extract water from the clothes as well resulting in more time in the dryer, and front loaders are more gentle on your clothes.
I wouldn't own anything other than a front loading machine.