Should You Get a High-Efficiency Dryer?

Nowadays, energy efficiency is a major factor when it comes to choosing a new home appliance. However widespread green ethics may be, it’s true that technology has taken time to develop to the point that it’s actually cost effective to purchase a resource saving device (which is when the real change is going to start happening). We’re getting close to the point that some appliances, like water-saving washing machines and energy-efficient water heaters, have started to completely beat out any of their less efficient market competitors. Are dryers the next appliance to make the list? Read on to find out.

high efThere is such a thing as a high-efficiency dryer, and the appliance’s efficiency is directly based on its ability to remove moisture from clothes using a given amount of electricity. This is generally measured in terms of how many pounds of clothing can be dried per kilowatt-hour (kWh). A number of factors affect a dryer’s efficiency, including how wet the clothes are to begin with, the air temperature inside the dryer (it works best when it’s like an oven┬áin there, the humidity inside the dryer (which is prone to change as clothing dries) and the air flow across the clothing.

All dryers manufactured in America have to meet particular minimum efficiency requirements set by the Department of Energy. For a dryer to be labeled as energy-efficient, they must exceed those standards. You’ve probably heard or EnergyStar, the program that ensures that energy-efficient appliances are properly certified. According to EnergyStar, for an dryer to have the energy star label it must be at least 20% more efficient than a regular dryer.

And to have a dryer that’s 20% more energy efficient than the standard is actually kind of a big deal, energy-savings-wise. The dryer is the second largest energy consumer after the refrigerator, so limiting its sap of electricity is going to make a difference in your utilities bill.

Unfortunately, there’s a fair amount of ground to cover before a dryer earns that EnergyStar label. All dryers in the U.S. today use practically the same amount of energy, to the extent that Energy Star doesn’t even rate clothes dryers; it’s just a waste of time at this point in dryer technology. Until Energy Star finds a cost effective model that is at least 20% more efficient than standard models, it won’t be rating any dryers any time soon.

maytagAnd yet, surely you’ve seen dryers and even washer/dryers be advertised as energy efficient. GE, Maytag, Kenmore and Whirlpool have all claimed that their dryers are valued for their efficiency.

However, this is almost always the case with washer/dryers, in which case the washer part of the washer dryer is actually the highly efficient half. Engineers have figured out how to make washers use much less water and electricity to perform the same job, but the dryer is likely still pretty similar to one purchased decades past.

That said, there are a few models developing in Europe that might turn a few energy-efficient dryer-lovers’ heads. These are generally outfitted with heat pumps and sold in Europe.

 

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