Sometimes it is tough to get a straight answer on the energy efficiency of clothes dryers. You can scarce avoid information on washer energy efficiency – it’s written all over each washer’s big, yellow Energy Star sticker mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency. The issue becomes a little murkier for clothes dryers.
“Energy Star does not label clothes dryers because most dryers use similar amounts of energy, which means there is little difference in the energy use between models,” reads the EPA website. The Department of Energy Appliance Standards staff plans to revisit the clothes dryers issue over the next few years, though, to determine if conservation standards should change.
In the meantime, there are ways to make sure you are getting the most energy bang for your buck. We scoured various sources to find the top ten ways to reduce your carbon footprint and your utilities budget when it comes to clothes dryers.
A few changes to your routine can lead to some spare change in your wallet and a clear conscience about the environment. For information on other energy efficient appliances see our reviews of French door refrigerators, dishwashers and front-load washers.
Consider using the cheapest clothes dryers around – the air – for some loads. Sure it takes a lot longer, but if you think about the dryer’s reputation as one of the top two or three energy users in your house, it may be worth hanging an indoor or outdoor clothesline (check your city’s ordinances) and waiting for some items to dry.
Take advantage of the moisture sensor option on clothes dryers that have one, or shop for one that does. Most recent and popular clothes dryers will turn themselves off when they sense the clothing is dry, whether you remember or not. That saves energy compared to older models that would run until their program was over, even if the loads were dry halfway through.
Think about efficiency as you wash clothing too. There are settings on your washer that can lead to less time in the dryer. The higher the spin speed in the washer, the less time clothing will need in the dryer. Or run an additional spin cycle to spin some of the water out before you put it into the dryer's heated air.
Take advantage of perm press cycles if your dryer has them. These use cooler air toward the end of a cycle to finish the drying process, which uses less energy than heated air. There is really no need to use the more costly, heated air toward the end of the process.
Clean the lint filter after every load. This will improve air flow and ease your dryer’s workload and energy use. This is also a safety issue. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, lint can block the flow of air for dryers, causing heat to build up, possibly resulting in a fire.
Clean the outside venting system often. This can become clogged and cause your machine to work harder and expend more energy.
Make sure the outside venting tubing takes the shortest route possible to the outdoors. This will cut down on the opportunities for clogging and kinking in the line.
Organize dryer loads by fabric types. Mixing lightweight and heavy fabrics means the heavy fabrics will extend the length of the cycle. Lighter items grouped together will dry quickly.
Dry full loads. There is no need to use the energy it takes to run an entire cycle for an item or two. Try and wait until you have enough items to make the energy expenditure more worthwhile.
Keep dryers in a room-temperature location. It will have to work harder to heat the air in a garage or chilly basement.