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Community and Q&A

Need to replace clothes dryer – what technology?

Tyler Davis | Posted in Green Products and Materials on

My wife informs me that our electric clothes dryer is nearly kaput. Should I replace it with the same kind?… as I understand the technology hasn’t changed in years. I also hear of newfangled tech like condensing (ductless) dryers, heat pump dryers, and of course gas dryers.

What is a efficiency / cost savings / payback period of these alternatives? We live in New Hampshire, so heating-dominant climate. Electricity costs me $0.17/kWh, propane is currently going for $1.90. Would probably cost $200 to bring a line over to that side of the basement.

We are a family of five and do a LOT of laundry – my wife estimates 6 loads/week.

What do you think?

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  1. Steve Knapp CZ 3A Georgia | | #1

    We have a heat pump dryer and like it very much. It requires a longer drying time but does not over dry clothes. Static has been a nonissue since we switched.

    As for negatives, it cost a lot more to purchase than a standard vented dryer and the lint filter has to be cleaned after almost every load.

  2. User avatar
    Jon R | | #2

    > It requires a longer drying cost a lot more to purchase

    I'd like to see an analysis of the cost that includes increased wear on the clothes.

  3. Calum Wilde | | #3

    A other owner of a heat pump dryer here. We like it a lot as well. We moved from an old style top load washer at the same time as we moved from a resistive electric dryer. With the clothes coming out of the washer much dryer we having noticed much if any increase in drying time.

  4. User avatar
    David Goodyear | | #4

    We just installed a heat pump dryer also. Drying time is slightly longer but it works well.

  5. Brad Depies | | #5

    We are yet another heat pump dryer owner and we like it alot. As was mentioned previously, the lint filters fill up quick. At some point in the next few months I will be hooking up an electric usage meter to the dryer circuit to see how much it actually uses as well as cost vs gas. We've had it four months with zero issues.

  6. User avatar GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #6

    GBA has published several articles on heat-pump clothes dryers, including these two:

    Energy-Saving Clothes Dryers Hit U.S. Markets

    Alternatives to Clothes Dryers

    Perhaps the most relevant article to your payback question, however, is this one: "Heat-Pump Clothes Dryers." In that article, Joe Rice calculated that his heat-pump clothes dryer is saving him about 29 cents per load of laundry, resulting in a long payback time.

  7. User avatar
    Stephen Sheehy | | #7

    We opted for a heat pump dryer primarily to avoid the wall penetration for the vent. But the dryer works fine.

  8. User avatar
    Robert Opaluch | | #8

    Jon R

    If you want to reduce wear on clothes being dried, hang them on a line to air dry so they don't bake and tumble in the dryer. Polyester, polartec, etc fabrics absorb little water, so they air dry quickly. Very quickly if you use a fan to move air around the drying rack. Use the dryer only for heavier cotton items or air dry them using a fan to get it done faster. Cheaper than using electricity or fuel to heat and tumble, and you may not even need to purchase that dryer if you really want to save money.

    Turn down the dryer heat to reduce shrinkage of cotton fabric and likely reduce the cost of running the dryer.

    You can separate more delicate fabrics from heavy items to reduce tumble dry wear and tear. Turn clothes inside out so the inside gets a little less abrasion than the outside?

  9. User avatar
    Michael Maines | | #9

    A way to use energy-saving dryers, if clothes don't get as dry as you want, is to include a drying closet--a hanging space with an HRV intake and louvred doors. Or hang your clothes on a line, as Robert notes--that's what we do when the weather cooperates.

  10. Tyler Davis | | #10

    Thanks for the replies. After thinking about this for a day, I came to my senses and realized that spending $1500 on a new heat pump dryer is silly, given the poor engineering and shoddy workmanship of modern appliances. Payback calculations are moot when the things don't even last that long.
    So I'll look for a basic conventional electric dryer. I noticed that Energy Star recently started certifying electric dryers, including conventional resistance dryers. They make the claim that they are 20% more efficient, but compared to what? Old dryers w/o moisture sensor? Heat pump dryers vs. electric dryers? I can pick up a tested 3-5 year old dryer from the Habitat ReStore for $150 instead of paying $700 for a new Energy Star model and I bet I come out ahead over the life cycle of use.

  11. Jaccen | | #11

    Reduce, re-use, recycle (in that order). If you don't feel like using the high-tech, nuclear fusion option (aka a clothesline with the sun), re-using is usually a great option.

  12. Yupster | | #12

    Not really helpful to the OP but seems like a good time to bring up an incoming technology that will reduce clothes drying time and energy use drastically. Ultrasonic clothes drying!!
    Does that sound futuristic and fantastic or what?

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