The average American family does almost 400 loads of laundry yearly, according to the Alliance for Water Efficiency. All those clothes obviously need to get dried. Indeed, the Consumer Energy Center attributes six percent of the average household’s utility costs to the clothes dryer. While air drying your clothes is certainly the least expensive way to dry clothes, that approach is not always practical. A week of rain or snowy weather can literally dampen any thoughts of clean, dry clothes and finding space for sweater racks in living spaces can be difficult. This leaves many turning towards energy efficient dryers for help.
Before deciding on a gas or electric dryer, though, it’s wise to consider, among other potential points, the energy usage. Determining which is more energy efficient, a gas or electric dryer, requires knowing more about how they work.
All clothes dryers operate the same way: electricity turns a drum that tumbles clothes through heated air to remove moisture. It’s the operating costs that are critical to understand in the differences in gas vs. electric dryers and deciding which is more energy efficient. Electric dryers use heating coils. Gas dryers use a gas burner to create heat and typically cost more in the initial purchase. The price of natural gas, however, is generally lower than electricity (depending on where you live, of course, and other variables). Depending on your rates, drying a load can cost between 32-41 cents per load in an electric dryer and 15-33 cents in a gas dryer.
Another difference in the gas vs. electric dryer debate is that gas dryers tend to run hotter than electric dryers, which means clothes can potentially tumble for a shorter period. This can result in energy savings and potentially lower wear-and-tear on the clothes themselves since they spend less time tumbling in the dryer. The Consumer Energy Center estimates using a natural gas dryer can result in up to 50% savings in dryer energy costs.
There is a cost to converting to natural gas. If your household currently has electric appliances, converting for just one appliance may not make financial sense. Checking out the cost of natural gas versus electricity in your area is a good first step. The Consumer Energy Center notes that the cost of converting to a natural gas dryer could be recouped in energy savings within a year or two. So the short answer to the question which is more energy efficient, a gas or electric dryer, appears to be gas.
You can still lower energy costs, no matter which dryer have. Pay attention to the EF, or Energy Factor. The EF measures the energy efficiency of a dryer in pounds of clothing per kilowatt-hour of electricity. The federal EF minimum standard for an electric dryer is 3.01. For gas dryers, the minimum is 2.67. For the best energy efficiency use a dryer with the highest EF rating.
Also use a dryer with a moisture sensor. This sensor automatically turns off when the clothes are dry. This saves energy and reduces wear and tear on your clothes because they are not over dried. Consumers can save about 10% in energy costs with a temperature sensing control and 15% with a moisture sensing control, according to the Consumer Energy Center. Both are energy savers over the regular timed drying cycle.
Regardless of whether you choose a gas or electric dryer, operating it in a smart way can always help with energy costs. Here are some tips offered by the Consumer Energy Center consider:
Now that you know what’s better, a gas or electric dryer, you can begin conserving energy and saving money. Although the difference between a gas dryer vs. an electric dryer doesn’t seem very dramatic, over the course of your dryer’s lifetime, you could save hundreds of dollars in energy costs. But remember: energy efficient dryers only save you money when used properly. Keeping your dryer in a heated space and cleaning the lint filter regularly are just two ways to increase the power of your energy efficient dryer.
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