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Clothes Dryers: The Heat Is On

Drum Up Dryer Savings

Did you know that after refrigerators, clothes washers and dryers use more energy than any other appliance? Dryer efficiency isn’t regulated, and the technology doesn’t vary much among models, so when it comes to dryers the biggest energy savings come from changing the way you use your machine. 

Cost vs. Savings: Should You Buy?

Large appliances can be a big investment, and a new dryer is no exception. Buying new can reduce your energy use, but it can also take years to make up the cost in savings. If your dryer is more than 10 years old, you should strongly consider replacing it. If not, you may be able to improve your current machine’s energy efficiency just by making simple changes to the way you normally use it.


Dryers: What’s the Difference?

A typical electric dryer in Southern California uses 693 kilowatt hours and costs $118 annually to run.1,2 Natural gas dryers cost less to run. Since the basic technology in most dryers is the same, as a rule of thumb, it’s a good idea no to upgrade to a more efficient model before the need arises. However, when you do get a new machine, you should probably pay attention to those models that have efficiency features; for example, moisture sensors will turn the machine off when your clothes are dry in order to save energy and to prevent clothes from overheating. Some dryers even have controls to automatically start loads at off-peak hours, when electricity is cheaper.


Technology: What’s Your Type?

More advanced technologies include ventless condensing dryers that can be installed just about anywhere. It dries your loads by pushing warm air through your clothing. A heat exchanger then removes the moisture from the air by condensing it out. Also, ventless dryers have the added benefit of installing anywhere in the home without a vent hookup.

A Heat Pump Clothes Dryer (HPCD) works in the same manner, except that in addition to using moisture condensation this type of dryer also recycles the heat from the air. Although HPCD dryers may be more expensive, they can be up to twice as efficient as conventional dryers.3

Use & Care

Proper maintenance and installation of your home’s dryer will maximize efficiency measures. Learn more about Clothes Dryer Use & Care, where to start, and how to use and care for dryers for the most savings. Return to Laundry Appliances.

Buyer’s Guide

Before you shop for efficiency upgrades, visit the Clothes Dryer Buyer’s Guide  for easy facts and figures that can help you choose the best equipment and materials for your home, needs and budget.

1KEMA, Inc. for the California Energy Commission. (2010). 2009 California Residential Appliance Saturation Study:  Executive Summary (CEC-200-2010-004-ES). Oakland, CA: KEMA, Inc. Retrieved October 4, 2012, from http://www.energy.ca.gov/appliances/rass (p. 4).  
2This assumes an electricity rate of $0.17/kWh, Calculated using the average annual household kWh dryer usage in Southern California Edison territory from the 2009 California Residential Appliance Saturation Study.
3Goorskey, Sarah, Wang, K., Smith, A. (2004). Home Energy Briefs: #6 Cleaning Appliances. Snowmass, CO: Rocky Mountain Institute. Retrieved October 9, 2012, from http://www.rmi.org/Knowledge-Center/Library/2004-18_HEB6CleaningAppliances (p. 3).

This program is funded by California utility customers and administered by Southern California Edison under the auspices of the California Public Utilities Commission.

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