According to the Consumer Energy Center, clothes dryers can be one of the most expensive home appliances to operate, using approximately 6% of a home’s total electricity usage. That likely doesn’t come as a surprise to many readers. Dryers are definitely energy hogs! If you happen to be looking for a new dryer, or any new appliance really, keep an eye out for the EnergyGuide label; the yellow tag you’ll find attached to most appliances.
The Energy Guide Label
The label notes how much energy an appliance uses and makes it easier to compare the energy use of similar models. The more energy-efficient an appliance is, the less it costs to run, and the lower your utility bills might be. Using less energy is good for the environment, too; it can reduce air pollution and help conserve natural resources. Nothing wrong with doing your small part to aid the environment!
Unfortunately, unlike many other appliances, clothes dryers don’t vary much from brand to brand and model to model in the amount of energy used. Appropriately enough, the Federal Trade Commission does not require clothes dryers to have a yellow EnergyGuide label. I checked my relatively new dryer, and sure enough, no label.
All clothes dryers being sold today operate in the same manner, they use electricity to turn a drum that tumbles clothes through heated air to remove moisture. However, operating costs vary depending if that air is heated by electricity or natural gas.
Electric dryers use heating coils, while gas dryers use a gas burner to produce heat. Gas dryers cost approximately $50 more to purchase initially, but since natural gas is usually less costly than electricity, gas dryers cost less to operate. Depending on your use, drying a load of laundry can cost between 32 to 41 cents in an electric dryer, or 15 to 33 cents in a gas dryer.
Gas dryers tend to operate at a hotter temperature than electric ones, so clothes can tumble in the dryer for shorter periods, sparing the material and reducing energy costs. Thus a gas dryer can save you up to 50% in energy costs.
Less of the New and More of the Old
When we decided to buy a new washer and dryer pair last year, a gas dryer was not an option for us, and since all electric dryers basically use the same amount of energy, a ‘better’ dryer was not an option if we wanted to reduce some of our utilities costs. While we had been talking about going old school and using a clothesline for a while, as a means to save a few bucks, it was only recently that we finally pulled the trigger.
So off to The Home Depot the wife went a couple weeks ago and returned with a retractable clothesline that can be easily mounted – it only took us about five minutes – on a wood surface; the eave hanging over our backyard patio worked out perfectly.
We now use the clothesline about 75% of the time. While we haven’t had the clothesline long enough to confirm the savings, the projected savings are pretty straight forward. Over the last six months, our electricity bill has averaged $135. If the dryer is 6% of that cost, we’re looking at $8.10 per month. Reduce that $8.10 by 75% and we’re left with $2.02 … a savings of $6.08 each month, or just shy of $73 each year. Not a game changer, but nothing to sneeze at either.
The Cherry on Top
The best part about drying our clothes naturally? That fresh scent – particularly with linens – that even the best dryer sheet can’t come close to replicating. Nothing like laying your head down on a freshly washed and dried pillow – after a long day – and reveling in that fresh scent. Nice!
An Update: I have had a chance to analyze my electric utility bill for the last year, comparing the average payments for the last six months to the previous six months. The average bills pre- and post-clothesline? $151.07 and $135.24. While the $15.83 may not be entirely attributable to the clothesline, I have to believe it is the primary factor driving down our electricity bill as we have made a conscious effort to use the dryer less and there really aren’t any other actions we have taken to reduce the use of electricity.