Clothes Dryer Energy Usage Guide in 2023
How much electricity your clothes dryer uses is not something to forget about when purchasing a new unit or when considering a home energy audit. As all clothes dryers use a lot of electricity (up to 7.8 kW), they can represent a significant portion of your electricity usage. With this in mind, you should always opt for an energy-efficient electric dryer and consider Energy Star-labeled products.
As the most powerful residential clothes dryer uses 7.8 kW of electricity, considering other models, such as heap pump dryers and ventless dryers, you may significant amounts of money. Super useful and present in almost every home, dryers make your laundry day a breeze, but they put a significant strain on your electric bill. Let’s read into more detail and find out how you can reduce your energy usage and still dry clothes.
Dryer Energy Consumption
As any form of heating takes a lot of electricity, dryers are among the most power-hungry appliances in your home. Do not be fooled into thinking that they actually consume the most power, as they only work for a limited time every week. This means that they cause significant spikes in energy usage, but for a short period only, typically under 5 hours a week.
Washer Energy Consumption
In fact, your clothes dryers use more electricity than a washer does. Your washer only uses electricity when heating the water. The rest of the electricity is used to spin the drum or the aggregator or the impeller and to pump the water out of the unit. On the other hand, your dryer constantly uses a lot of electricity, as in most models, the hot air is released through the vent and new air needs to be heated up.
In fact, your washer can have the same nominal power use as the dryer does, but since the heater only works for a short period, the effective power use represents only a small portion of your energy bill. In fact, an average washer will use less than $100 in electricity per year.
Dryer Running Costs
Still, considering that this is still a significant amount of electricity and money, you may want to consider ways to save energy and money by being mindful of how your use your clothes dryer and by opting for an energy-efficient model. Let’s first consider how much power you actually use.
We will assume you use an average model of 3,000 Watts and that you do 2 loads of laundry per week. This is approximately enough for a household of 1-2 people. Let’s do the math:
2 Loads X 2.5 Hours each X 3,000 Watts = 15,000 Watt Hours ~ 15 kWh
As the average electricity price in the US was $0.1546 per kWh in July 2022, we get the cost of running your clothes dryer at $2.319 per week or $120.58 per year. This may not seem like much, but consider that these costs increase with more family members. In general, you can expect to do as many loads of laundry as there are members in your family. How much you will pay also depends on how much electricity your dryer consumes.
Let’s consider yearly expenses as well. Here are some estimates per dryer energy consumption and the number of family members for an average US state:
|Family size / Dryer Electricity Usage||2 kWh||3 kWh||4 kWh||6 kWh||7.8 kWh|
the cost of running a dryer for a full year, for different family sizes and different electricity usage, assuming 2.5 hours per load
Electric Usage Calculation
Estimates are one thing, but if you want to know how much electricity clothes dryers actually use, you should consider checking the power label (usually on the back of the machine) and doing the calculation on your own. There are only three steps to calculating energy use:
- Step One – check the power label – the power use should fall anywhere between 1,000 Watts and 7,800 Watts, This is your per-hour energy use.
- Now, divide that number by 1,000 to get energy use in kWh and multiply it by your electricity rate. This is how much your clothes dryer costs to run per hour.
- Finally, multiply that number by the number of hours your heater is operable in an average week. This will give you a very precise estimate of how much money it costs you to run your dryer.
Alternatively, you can multiply that number by 52 to see how much it costs you to run your dryer per year. You can also purchase a simple power meter and plug your dryer into it. These meters have a margin of error that is lower than 5% and will show precisely how much energy you use for the period that you were taking the measures.
Factors Affecting Your Dryer’s Energy Use
Dealing with estimates disregards many important factors that determine your clothes dryer’s energy use. As no two dryers are the same, you should pay attention to all these factors and understand that newer models will always do a better job with less electricity used. Here are factors that determine your dryer’s energy use:
- Dryer age,
- Dryer wattage,
- Energy efficiency,
- Time of use per day/week/month,
- Dryer settings, and
- Load sizes.
Your dryer age is probably the most important determiner of how much electricity you will use each week for drying your clothes. Electric drying takes a lot of power, so having a newer appliance means using newer technology that can save a lot of energy that the dryer would otherwise use. Older appliances can also have outdated or broken thermometers, which can increase power consumption.
As it is important to save every kilowatt-hour of energy, having a newer model will mean that you also help nature and climate change mitigation. It will also mean that your carbon footprint and electricity bill is lower. As a newer dryer’s energy consumption is usually much lower than that of older models, investing in new laundry appliances can quickly pay off.
Your dryer wattage is also a factor that determines energy usage. However, this does not mean that you should hurry to purchase the dryer with the lowest wattage, as they may take longer to dry your clothes and end up using more energy in total, despite that they use less electricity per hour. If an 800 Watt dryer takes 3 hours to dry your clothes, that is 2.4 kWh of energy use. That same work can be done by a 1,000 Watt dryer in 2 hours, resulting in 2 kWh of power consumption.
Always opt for the sweet spot in the middle range. Most models of around 2,000-3,000 Watts do a good job and in a decent time. Purchasing a dryer on the other side of the spectrum can result in too much power being wasted, as the super hot air may not have enough time to absorb all the moisture and may be leaving the appliance semi-dry, carrying precious energy with it.
The energy efficiency of clothes dryers is another factor to consider. In general, Energy-star certified dryers will use at least 20% power less than their regular counterparts. They enable you to save electricity and conserve natural resources, all while keeping your electric bills low and the cost-to-run in a reasonable bracket.
Time of Use
The time of use of your dryer is another thing to consider, as some models simply take more time to dry clothes. In general, you should always opt for larger models with a bigger drum inside to give the clothes as much space to move and tumble inside. This will help keep the time of use short.
Another way to use the time of use to your benefit, by reducing it as much as possible, is to go for a higher spin cycle in your laundry machine. This will extract as much water as possible from the clothes, leaving less work for the dryer to use. Needless to say, the spin cycle in the washer uses less power than your dryer, especially per unit of water removed.
Needless to say, a bigger family will always soil more clothes that the dryer should take care of. You need to consider this when trying to understand how much time your dryer spends working week after week. The time during the day when the dryer is used should also be considered. There is no point in comparing a 2-member family that runs their dryer twice a week, with a family of 6 that runs it 5-6 times a week.
The next thing to consider is your dryer settings. Namely, most dryers allow you to choose the temperature setting which ranges from eco and ambient temperature to hot cycles. As hot cycles are only meant for durable fabrics that may or may not be disinfected (such as your bed sheets, linen, etc., you do not need to use them every time you run your dryer.
Choosing the appropriate setting and auto-mode, where humidity sensors are available, will result in lower average power consumption per load and will still ensure proper drying. The higher the heat, the more energy your dryer will use, but the time of use may not be slashed accordingly. Some dryer’s wattage also depends on the settings, so ensure you check out the manuals. Dryers use less electricity in auto mode.
Load sizes are also something to take into account when determining how much power dryers use. When determining a good load size, always choose either coupled appliances or a dryer that can dry two pounds more than your washer can wash. This will result in optimal energy use and shorter drying times.
When choosing the load size manually, always leave some wiggle room. If you overfill your dryer, drying will take too much time, especially if the clothes inside do not have ample room to be tumbled. Additionally, loads too small will result in higher energy use when compared to the load size.
Types of Dryers
As the dryer market is large, there are many models that you can see on the market. If you are preparing to buy a new dryer, you may want to consider some Energy-Star-certified clothes dryer options out there. You should also understand the differences between some major types based on the source of heat your dryer uses:
- Gas dryers,
- Vented dryers,
- Ventless dryers:
- Condenser dryers,
- Heat pump dryers.
Gas dryers use natural gas as the heat source. As natural gas is cheaper than electricity, this dryer’s wattage is much lower and they are cheaper to run. However, if you live in an area where natural gas is expensive, or you have solar panels installed, you may want to consider electric clothes dryers.
Vented dryers are the most common type of dryer. A standard vented dryer needs an exhaust vent, to release hot, humid air outside of your home. It also uses a lot of electricity and may not be the best option for you. In fact, most cheap models are vented-type dryers – and they will cost you a lot to run.
Condenser dryers, on the other hand, use less kWh of electricity per load. They use special condenser elements to convert water vapor to water that they store. Some benefits of condenser dryers are that they use less electricity, are usually energy-star certified, and even leave you with some condensed water which you can use in irons, steam cleaners, and even humidifiers.
Heat Pump Condenser Dryers
Heat pump condenser dryers are the latest word of technology for drying clothes. If how many watts your dryer uses is important to you, this is the option that you should go with. As these dryers do not heat air all the time, but rather move heat, they use less electricity and can dry your clothes at the same time.
In addition to this, heat pump condensers are the most eco-friendly option there is. They reduce your carbon footprint compared to standard dryers, leave you with condensed water, and are in general electrical devices that can pay themselves off within several years of use. This type of dryer uses some 60% + less energy than conventional dryers.
Tips on Reducing Your Dryer’s Energy Consumption
As it may not yet be time to switch your old appliance for a new one, let’s consider some tips on reducing your dryer’s energy consumption. The use of electricity compared between different models reveals that natural gas and heat pump dryers use the least kWh of electricity per load. But even if you do have an electrical device like this, you may still save by using your dryer properly and ensuring good maintenance.
Use Energy Star Certified Dryer
Using an energy-star certified dryer is the best way to save energy. As these models use around 20% less electricity, you can expect to $60-$100 per year with an average energy-star certified model. As these devices usually cost more but last for a long time, they can pay themselves off within 10 years of purchase.
Use Ventless Dryers
As vented dryers use the most energy of any other type of dryer, using a ventless dryer can help save energy from its first load. A condensing dryer and a heat pump condensing dryer are ventless dryers and they can help you reduce the kWh of electricity needed per load. This type of dryer’s energy usage is much lower than with their venter counterparts, and may even save you time, as there will be no more clogged exhaust to take care of.
Always Dry Full Loads
In the same way that you should only wash full loads, you should only dry full loads, as well. The thing is that dryers are designed to dry a certain amount of clothes. Anything less, and your dryer may use more energy than is needed. Anything more, and the dryer may use more time than needed, resulting in higher energy use.
Dry Loads in Succession
If you have a dedicated laundry day, drying loads in succession can help reduce your kilowatt-hour consumption, by relying on residual heat to help speed things up in each subsequent load you’re supposed to dry. This is a great way to save.
Use Moisture-Sensing Settings
Most dryers on the market, especially energy-efficient ones, have moisture-sensing elements that can help curb energy use. This type of tumble dryer can help reduce energy use by sensing how much moisture there is left over in the clothes and shutting off the cycle at a precise moment. Overdrying your clothes is a known issue and may leave streaks and marks on your clothes besides increasing your energy use.
You should also approach the dryer settings more holistically, as there are usually three levels of humidity that your dryer can keep the clothes at. Ironing, fluff, and wardrobe settings are usually available. If you plan on ironing the clothes, use the ironing set. If you plan to fold and leave clothes in your wardrobe, you should choose the wardrobe setting for the driest clothes.
Regularly Clean the Dryer Lint Filter
Cleaning your lint filter is a must. In fact, most programs, including the moisture-sensing settings may have issues drying your clothes if the lint filter is dirty. Clean it regularly to ensure proper air circulation and to reduce the risk of fire.
Always Keep the Outside Exhaust Clean
Keeping the outside exhaust follows the same logic. Namely, your vented dryer needs to release all the hot air. If it cannot do so, the leftover heat can build up and damage your clothes. Your dryer energy usage will go up, as it will not be able to dry clothes in a short time, and you risk a fire.
Use the EcoBoost Option
As most dryers have EcoBoost or similar options, you should use them to reduce energy use. These modes usually use less electricity, but may take a bit longer to dry your clothes. Use Eco modes whenever possible, as savings and carbon footprint reduction add up over time.
Best Dryer in the Market Today
A good clothes dryer will be energy efficient and will use the least number of kilowatt-hours per load, not per hour. The best dryer in the market will also have the following options:
- New drying technology, such as a heat pump or condenser,
- Delayed start option, so you can use it during off-peak periods,
- EcoBoost or other eco-friendly options,
- Will be big enough to accommodate your family’s needs in 2-3 loads per week,
- Will be an electric dryer, enabling you to use the benefits of green energy that a natural gas heater cannot give you.
What’s the Cheapest Time to Use Electricity?
The cheapest time to use electricity depends on your energy provider. When browsing for energy plans, always check out if there are off-peak or even free electricity periods. This is usually in the late evening, at night, or even during early morning, and will reduce the number of kilowatt hours you have to pay for.
Does a Dryer Burn a Lot of Electricity?
Yes, a dryer burns a lot of electricity. In fact, a dryer can use more kilowatt-hours than your washer. It also uses more power than most TVs, despite the difference in the time of use. Choosing energy-efficient clothes dryers, energy-star-rated appliances, and dryers with heat pump will help you save a lot.
Is Electricity Cheaper after 10 pm?
In some areas of the US, electricity is cheaper after 10 PM. You can use this information to your advantage. Using the delayed start option on your washer, dishwasher and dryer will help you save money. Using the same period to heat water in your hot water tank will also help reduce your energy bills.
Should I Dry Towels on High Heat?
Drying your towels on lower heat will help save electricity and will extend their life, as the material will be put under less stress every time you wash and dry your towels. However, if these are face towels, or it is the flu season, you may want to consider washing and drying them on high heat. This will help kill off as many germs as possible and will decrease the likelihood of you getting sick.
As your dryer is a power-hungry appliance, it may pay off to consider the way you use it and the model you have bought. Understanding the kWh per load used, the technology that powers your dryer, as well as why you should maintain proper air circulation is the key to ensuring that your dryer does not cost a fortune every time you run it. Although small, these savings add up, in both monetary and climate-related terms.