Unlike most other household appliances, dryers do not differ dramatically in their energy use from one model to another. For this reason, they are not required to show an EnerGuide label, nor are the eligible for to qualify as ENERGY STAR products.
That is not to say that the amount of energy used to dry your clothes unimportant. After the refrigerator, the dryer is usually the second largest consumer of electricity in a typical household, costing approximately $85 a year to operate, or $1,530 over the average lifespan of 18 years.
The newest dryers are only marginally more efficient than older ones, using approximately 8% less energy. However, over the lifespan of a dryer, that 8% can add up to approximately $125 in cost savings. Many newer dryers come equipped with a number of features aimed at saving money and energy. Most notable are those equipped with sensors that will turn the dryer off automatically when the clothes are dry.
Currently, all dryers work on the same premise – they tumble clothes though heated air to remove the moisture after going through the washing machine. Using similar principles to a microwave oven, engineers are developing a microwave-based clothes dryer. However, the major hurdle at this time is all of the metal surfaces used in the dryer itself, and the metal in clothing, such as zippers and buttons. A microwave-based clothes dryer would be a big step forward in saving both money and energy when it comes to drying clothes.
Of course the cheapest way to dry your clothes is not to use an appliance at all, but rather to hang them using either an outdoor clotheslines, or even hanging them indoors. Harnessing the heat of the sun and the power from a breeze makes a cloth line the most economical and energy efficient means of drying your clothes. As such, they are regaining the popularity they garnered several years ago. Ironically, many newer areas, more specifically in planned communities, restrict the use of clothes lines. If you are interested in saving money and energy by using a clothes line, please check with your local homeowner’s association to ensure you are indeed allowed to use one.
For more energy saving ideas, see our dryer saving tips below.