Long-awaited Improvements for Clothes Dryers
Courtesy of Nashville Home Inspection | April 2015 Monthly Tip
The home appliance that consumes the most energy isn’t the refrigerator. And it isn’t the washing machine. Or the dishwasher. It’s the typical clothes dryer that is the most energy-intensive. In fact, an older model electric clothes dryer sometimes consumes as much energy annually as a new energy efficient refrigerator, dishwasher and clothes washer combined.
Clothes washers have seen a 70 percent reduction in energy use since 1990, but until now, dryers have largely remained inefficient. Currently, Americans spend $9 billion annually to operate their dryers, but research done by the National Resources Defense Council has shown that updating residential dryers to the level of energy efficient versions now available could save U.S. consumers $4 billion a year.
In addition to the financial savings, the atmosphere would experience the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions per year.
Clothes dryers are used by an estimated 80 percent of households in the United States, of which 75 percent are electric models and 25 percent natural gas. Electric dryers dominate the U.S. market yet natural gas dryers typically cost 50 percent to 75 percent less to operate.
Fortunately, a new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) program was unveiled in February, featuring 45 Energy Star clothes dryer models. Energy Star certified dryers include gas, electric and compact models. Manufacturers offering them include LG, Whirlpool Kenmore, Maytag and SafeMate.
All of the energy efficient models include moisture sensors to ensure that the dryer does not continue running after the clothes are dry, which reduces energy consumption by around 20 percent, according to the EPA.
In addition, two of the Energy Star-approved models – LG’s EcoHybrid Heat Pump Dryer and Whirlpool’s HybridCare Heat Pump Dryer include innovative “heat pump” technology, which reduces energy consumption by almost forty percent more that other models.
Heat-pump dryers combine conventional vented drying and heat-pump technology, which recycles heat. The technology, a standard in Europe, is similar to that used in air conditioners and dehumidifiers.
For consumers not quite ready to upgrade their dryer, how the appliance is used can be almost as important as the type of dryer in the home. Choosing a lower operating temperature can slow the drying process a little, but will cut energy use significantly. On some dryers, this means switching the dryer to run on the “delicate” cycle or other low-heat setting. In addition, stopping the dryer before all of the clothes are bone-dry will also save energy, reduce wrinkles and help clothes last longer.
Although some Energy Star models can cost almost $600 more than other comparable models, the higher cost may be balanced by energy savings and, in some areas of the country, up to $600 in rebates offered by government and utility incentive programs.
Source: John Watkins, Nashville Home Inspection; April 2015 Monthly Tip