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Your clothes dryer could be majorly draining your home's energy — here's what to do about it

Those savings can really add up over the lifetime of an appliance.

Those savings can really add up over the lifetime of an appliance.

Photo Credit: iStock

According to the Super Efficient Dryer Initiative, clothes dryers account for about 6% of the energy use in the average home and cost Americans $9 billion a year to operate. 

Some homeowners get around this expense by line drying, essentially trading time for money, but another option that can slash your energy bill while providing all the convenience of a typical dryer is an extra-efficient Energy Star dryer.

What is an Energy Star dryer?

Energy Star is a federal program that identifies the most energy-efficient home appliances for consumers. Qualifying dryers use 20% less energy than the industry standard.

In particular, the Energy Star website says you can "save the most with a heat pump dryer." This is an innovative design that uses the same principles as an air conditioner or heat pump to heat air for drying clothes. 

The machine works in a closed loop, with the same air being reheated, collecting water from the clothes, traveling through a condenser that removes the water, and then being heated again.

A heat pump dryer doesn't have a heating element. Instead, it warms air by moving existing heat and manipulating pressure. This takes less energy to get the same heating power. Also, because it uses the same air over and over again instead of drawing air in from outside, it saves even more energy, and it doesn't need a vent.

How will an Energy Star dryer save me money?

The less energy your dryer uses, the more money you save on your energy bills. Those savings can really add up over the lifetime of an appliance — sometimes eventually paying for the entire cost of the unit. 

That's especially true if your current dryer is an older model. Past appliances simply didn't have all the energy-efficient features that modern ones can have, and they also tend to get less efficient with wear and tear — so your current dryer could be driving up your bills more than you realize.

Do heat pump dryers take longer than traditional dryers?

Heat pump dryers do take slightly longer, but it's a matter of minutes, not hours. It's usually only noticeable with large or very wet loads — and you can often make up for it with a more advanced washing machine that removes more of the water.

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