Ever wondered which is more efficient, a gas or electric dryer? Suppose you have the option to have either, which would you choose?
Dryers, whether gas or electric, usually have a 1/2 to 3/4 horsepower (hp) motor to turn the drum. Electric dryers are usually rated at 240 volts and 23-28 amps, which is 5,520-6,720 watts, or 5.5-6.7 kilowatts (kw). Gas dryers use about 0.2-0.3 therms per load, or about 18,000-35,000 BTU/hour.
For a typical family, suppose their electric rate is $0.17/kwh and their gas rate is $0.85/therm; suppose they do an average of 8 loads of laundry per week, with each load in the dryer going for an hour. Below are comparisons of the heating costs per month for each dryer.
- Electric—6.7 kw x 1 hr per load x 8 loads x $0.17/kwh x 4 weeks = $36.45 per month
- Gas–0.2 therms x 1 hr per load x 8 loads x $0.85/therm x 4 weeks = $5.44 per month
Even if the electric dryer uses only half of the rated energy usage, it is stll more than three times the cost of the gas dryer in this example.
If you currently have an electric dryer and use it as much or more than the example above, or if you have high electric rates, you might think about trading it in for a gas dryer (if this option is available to you). Unfortunately, neither Edison, the Gas Company, nor Riverside Public Utilities (RPU) offer rebates for dryers; nor are there Energy Star dryers available. However, there are Energy Star washing machines that qualify for rebates from the Gas Company and RPU. These high efficiency units not only save heating fuel (gas or electric) costs, but also use significantly less electricity and water to operate. Additionally, some of these units have a drying factor, which spins the clothes to remove excess water, thereby reducing the time needed in the dryer. When comparing these new units, though, be wary of steam generating models. Depending on how the steam is created, this can use substantially more energy.
Whatever kind of dryer you use, here are some tips to use it more efficiently:
- Clean the lint filter with every load. Lint build up is one of the most common causes of house fires.
- Wash and dry full (but not overfull) loads.
- Spin the clothes in the wash machine before putting them in the dryer.
- If available, use the dryer’s moisture sensor to turn the dryer off when the clothes are dry.
- Wash and dry in the morning or evening, and avoid using during peak hours, to reduce load on the grid (and risk of brown outs or black outs) as well as reducing heat build up.
- At least every 6-12 months check/clean the dryer vent for a tight fit and no lint build up in the corners.
- Whenever possible, hang clothes to dry instead of putting them in the dryer at all!