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vs. Gas Dryers
Cost Per Load
Loads per week
loads per week
/ccf or therm
Time per load
Cost per load
Cost per year
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I don't endorse the advertisers.
The above are
SAMPLE costs! Your own cost will
be different depending on your local rate
for electricity and gas. (It will also depend on
how well your washer extracts water from your clothes,
how long you run your dryer, and what model of dryer
you use, but choosing the correct fuel rates will get
you close enough.) See more on the
cost of electricity, the
cost of gas, and how to
misquote this site. And see the deluxe
laundry calculator to figure the cost of both
the washer and the dryer.
Assumptions: 45 minutes per
load, Electric model uses 3.3 kwh, Gas model uses 0.22
therm + 0.21 kWh. Gas model asumes rate in the
Electric column to spin the drum. See sources.
Clothes dryer energy use
A clothes dryer accounts for a whopping 12% of electricity use
in a typical household. (source)
And clothes drying is one of the easiest places to save
energy, because you can erase 100% of the cost by simply hanging
your clothes up to dry. At a sample
rate of $0.15/kWh and 7.5 loads per week, we're talking a
savings of $196 per year by line-drying instead of using
an electric dryer. That's hefty.
How to save energy and cut your costs
If you're determined to use a dryer, there are still other ways
to cut your energy use. Let's go over them now.
But let's start with the most effective: not using a dryer at all.
(1) Don't use a dryer in the first place
Dryers simply aren't necessary. You can
easily hang your clothes up to dry instead. The Japanese
are way ahead of us on that one -- they use most of the modern
conveniences we do, but clothes dryers aren't among them.
Even in the luxury apartments, you'll see the residents hanging
their laundry out on their balconies. I asked my Japanese
friend what they do when it rains for a solid week, and she
said, "We just hang the laundry up inside."
Fortunately, this idea is getting more popular even in the
U.S. Fewer people believe that clothes dryers are a
necessity vs. a few years ago. (Pew
Research, 2009) Drying
outside (vs. inside) is better if possible, since clothes dry
faster and the sun has a sanitizing effect. Tip the
Planet has an excellent
article about air-drying clothes, covering every possible
angle, including clever things like retractable clothes lines.
Get a gas dryer, IF gas is cheaper than electricity in your
area, and IF you already have gas service.
If you don't already have gas service, it's usually
not worth getting it just to run a gas dryer vs. electric,
unless you gas is way cheaper than electricity in your
area, and/or you have a very large household.
That's because you'll likely pay $10+/mo. just for the privilege
of being a customer of the gas company. And if you don't have
gas lines, installing them will be very expensive.
If you do already have gas service, your next step is to see if
going with gas would actually net you any real savings.
Gas is often cheaper than electricity, but not always. You
can find your cost for gas and electricity (from your utility
bills), enter them into the calculator above, and then see how
much it costs to run an electric dryer vs. a gas dryer.
And to really see how much your laundry is costing you,
see my deluxe laundry calculator,
which includes the cost of both the washer and the
Whether or not you save any money by going with gas, it will
save some energy, if conservation is your goal.
(Though if conservation is really your goal, you're probably
line-drying your clothes anyway.) Power plants are only
about 37-44% efficient at turning coal
into electricity, so it's more efficient to use the fossil fuel
directly rather than inefficiently converting it into
electricity first. (Gas dryers themselves are a little
less efficient than electric dryers, but the penalty for getting
the electricity from coal in the first place is far higher.)
(3) When replacing a dryer, get one with a moisture sensor
A moisture sensor shuts off the dryer automatically
when your clothes are dry. So you'll never run the
dryer longer than you have to. Moisture sensors cut energy
use by about 15%. (Ca.
Energy Com.) Make sure to clean the sensor
occasionally, too, so that the waxy buildup from dryer softening
sheets doesn't impede its ability to sense moisture. A
temperature sensor is almost as good as a moisture sensor, and
will cut energy use by 10%.
(4)Get a front-load washer
Front-loading washers tend to leave about 7% less
water in your clothes than top-load washers, which means 7% less
drying time. (source)
(Front-leaders use a lot less water, too.)
(5) Use a spin dryer
dryer is a little machine that spins your clothes
around really fast to remove excess water (and detergents bonded
to the water). After a couple of minutes in the spin dryer, you
put your clothes in a regular clothes dryer, where they dry 30
minutes faster than usual. Sample savings are $113/yr.
for electric and $67 for gas. (Based
on 7.5 loads a week, 0:20 drying time instead of 0:50, 15˘/kWh
& 1.23/therm, and $3 to run the spin dryer: 1 washer load
= 3 spin dryer loads (Amazon),
3 mins./load, so 9 mins total, at 300
(6)Tips on using your dryer
Clean the lint filter after
every load. Your dryer takes
longer to dry when it's trying to push air through lint.
A dirty lint screen can mean 30% more energy use. (CA
If you use fabric softener sheets,
clean your lint screen with a toothbrush and water
occasionally. Dryer sheets can cause an
invisibly waxy buildup on the lint screen which makes it
harder for the dryer to push air through it. (Snopes).
Wash & Dry very early in the
morning, or at night. If your utility
imposes a demand charge, then
do your laundry in off-peak hours.
Feed your dryer warm air. The colder the incoming
air, the more energy your dryer will have to use to heat it
up. A cold basement is the worst place for a
dryer. The warmer the place you can put the dryer, the
better. (But of course, don't heat the area the dryer is
in just to feed the dryer warmer air. That will use way
more energy than having the dryer in a cold area.)
Add a wet towel to remove wrinkles.
According to one website (no longer around), if you leave your
clothes in the dryer too long and they become wrinkled, you
can easily cure this by throwing a wet towel in the dryer and
drying again. This saves you from having to either iron all
your clothes, or wash them and dry them all over again.
(7)Run around the house naked
Then you'll have less clothes to wash. (But not if
it's so cold that you'd compensate by turning up the heat,
which would more than negate your savings. On the other hand,
if it's summer and this lets you run the AC less, then you'll
save even more.)
Below are questions I've received and
answered about how saving on the use of
Electricity about saving on dryer costs
Our dryer just quit working
today. My husband says if he puts up a clothesline and
irons the clothes to remove the wrinkles that it will be
much cheaper than using the dryer. But will the iron
use negate the savings of the dryer? I have been
researching this all day on the net and could not find
anything even remotely close until i found your site.
Very informative, glad it is there. —Wendy
You can estimate the difference yourself like this:
(Dryer wattage) x (Time used) = (Total Dryer Energy)
(Iron wattage) x (Time used) = (Total Iron Energy)
You can find the wattage of each appliance by looking at the
label, but this is not so effective for dryers since the
rating on the label is the maximum the dryer will ever use,
and it typically uses a bit less than that. To find the
electrical consumption of your dryer more accurately, see the
table above that I just added.
Anyway, when you do the calculations you'll find that using
the iron is cheaper. The iron uses less electricity than
the dryer per minute of use, and you probably won't run it for
nearly as long as you'd run the dryer anyway.
There's another factor to consider: You're also saving the
cost of a new dryer if you don't replace it. So using a
clothesline and an iron instead of replacing and using a new
dryer will definitely save you money.
You're wrong that putting the dryer in
a warmer room is more efficient, because cooler air holds
less moisture, so putting the dryer in a cooler
room like a basement means the incoming air will be drier,
so the dryer can more easily extract moisture from the
clothes. — gunbo
You're confusing relative humidity
and absolute humidity. The amount of moisture in a room
doesn't change just because the temperature is higher or
lower. That is, moisture doesn't simply disappear just
because you raise the temperature. So a cool basement
doesn't automatically mean drier air than a warm garage.
Quite the opposite, basements are actually moisture magnets.(source)
Your dryer works by heating the incoming air, increasing its
ability to hold moisture. The warmer the air you feed it,
the less it has to heat that air up. If you want to prove
me wrong, run your dryer in both the living area and the
basement, recording the room temperature and absolute humidity,
and measure how much energy is used in each situation.
(Me, I don't have a basement.)
Everyone says to run appliances like
washing machines and dishwashers at night to save money. Is
electricity cheaper at night?— Melissa, Appomattox,
Not usually, but it depends on how your utility
company charges you for energy. Some utilities
charge less for evening use, and you can check your electric
bill or call your utility company to find out for sure. It
could also pay to run appliances in the evening when the air
conditioning is off if your utility company has a demand
charge. See the next answer about that.
By the way, one reader asked about a dryer running up the AC
bill by adding heat to your home. The answer is that the
impact of dryers on your cooling bill is nearly non-existent,
since almost all the heat is vented to outside the house.
(If all the heat were contained inside for some reason,
it would take you about 1.75 kWh for your AC to remove it, which
at 16˘/kWh would cost you 28˘ per load.) (Showing
my work: One dryer load = 15k Btus as per laundry
sources. One ton of AC is 12k Btus/hr as per my cooling
page, so 2.5 tons = 30k Btus/hr, so it takes 30k Btus/hr ÷ 15k
Btus per load = 1/2 hour of AC. A 2.5-ton AC uses 3500w
from my cooling page, so 3.5kW x 0.5 hours = 1.75kwH, x 16˘ =
Does it raise your electric bill to
run two appliances at the same time rather than one after
the other? Like, say, the washer and the dryer or the
oven and the dryer? We have an all electric house and
were trying to save money on our electric bill. —Christie
It depends on whether your utility company has a
separate demand charge in addition to the consumption
charge. The demand charge based on the maximum amount of
electricity you draw at any one time. The chart at right
from Wisconsin Electric illustrates the concept. (source, PDF)
The shaded area is how much electricity you used, and you know
you get charged for that. But the black bar on top is the
demand, how much energy you "demanded" at any given point
throughout the day. If your utility company has a demand charge
(ask them), then you can save money by spreading out your
electrical use throughout the day. Running appliances one after
the other rather than at the same time would reduce your demand.
And better yet, running them when you're not using much
electricity for other purposes (such as at night when the air
conditioner is off) will reduce your demand even more.