Gas vs electric dryer comparison
  • Category:
    Energy Efficiency
  • Published:
    January 27, 2016
  • Updated:
    March 28, 2022

Gas vs. Electric Dryers: Which Is Better?

When deciding between a gas dryer vs. electric dryer, your final decision can have a major effect on your power bill. If you’re like many families, you’re doing about 400 loads of laundry every year, and that represents about six percent of your energy bill.

In most cases, your dryer is the second biggest consumer of energy in your home. So your choice will likely be based on many factors, including energy efficiency. Many homes have both a gas hookup and a 240-volt outlet so you can choose either a gas or electric dryer. In considering your options, however, it helps to start with a good understanding of how each one works and how they compare.

What’s the difference between gas and electric dryers?

The main difference between a gas vs electric dryer is the way they heat the air that dries your clothes. Both blow hot air through spinning clothes and remove the resulting airborne moisture with fans. The difference between gas and electric dryers is that gas dryers use propane or natural gas to heat air and electric dryers push air over metal coils heated by electricity. You will connect to the gas hookup with a gas dryer and with electric, to the special 240-volt outlet.

How to determine which type of dryer you have

You might be wondering: Is my dryer gas or electric? Take a look behind your appliance and see what kinds of connections it has. If your dryer is electric, it’ll have a heavy cord and large plug. If you have a gas dryer, you’ll see a flexible steel gas connector and exhaust pipe, along with a regular electric plug. Gas dryers use a little electricity to run their motors and displays. Both kinds of dryers have a flexible duct that vents the moist, hot air and lint outside your home.

Comparing gas vs. electric dryers

Once people have answered the question “what is the difference between gas and electric dryers”, they likely turn to the next question: Which is better, gas or electric dryers? As with so many things, you take in as much information as you can and then make the choice that best suits your situation, usually involving trade-offs. You’ll want to compare costs to buy the two types of appliances, how installation expenses differ, how much you plan to use the dryer and how much it will cost to power each type. You can also review our guide to buying energy-efficient appliances.

Gas dryer vs electric dryer pros and cons

Gas dryer pros and cons

In the gas dryer vs electric dryer debate, here are some gas vs electric pros and cons that apply to regular dryers, as well as smart dryers:

Pros:

  • The price of natural gas is generally lower than electricity–depending on where you live and other variables.
  • Gas dryers can run hotter than electric dryers, which means your clothes tumble for a shorter period.
  • Wear-and-tear on your clothes is lower since they spend less time tumbling in the dryer.

Cons:

  • Gas dryers typically cost a bit more than electric dryers.
  • Installation requires the services of a professional, which adds to the initial cost.
  • Gas dryers require proper ventilation, which makes them more complex to install.
  • Do-it-yourself maintenance usually isn’t possible.
  • Model options are more limited.

Electric dryer pros and cons

In deciding which is better, gas or electric dryers, electric dryers have their own set of pros and cons to factor into your decision:

Pros:

  • Electric dryers generally have lower upfront costs than gas dryers.
  • There are fewer safety concerns with electric dryers.
  • You have more models to choose from.
  • Installation is easier. Plug it in and connect the vent and you are ready to go–assuming your laundry room is wired for 240 volts.

Cons:

  • Electric dryers may cost more to operate than gas dryers.
  • Energy efficiency is not a strong point for electric dryers. They need more time and energy to dry your clothes–sometimes twice as long.
  • Long run-times mean more wear and tear on your clothes.

Which type of dryer is more energy-efficient?

When weighing your options and figuring out what’s more efficient, a gas or electric dryer, consider factors such as the air temperature your dryer can produce, the humidity inside the dryer when it’s operating and the volume of air flowing through your clothes. Because they use so much energy, choosing an energy efficient dryer is one of the best ways to save energy in your home.

The Department of Energy uses a measurement called the Combined Energy Factor (CEF). That number is calculated as the weight of clothes in pounds divided by the energy used in a drying cycle measured in kWh. Models with an ENERGY STAR® rating are about 20 percent more efficient than other dryers. That’s significant, given the average home power usage.

Safety considerations for gas and electric dryers

While a properly installed and well-maintained dryer should give you years of trouble-free service, you still need to be aware of safety concerns. Gas fumes can leak from the appliance and connections, creating a risk of explosion. Other toxic fumes can also leak from improperly connected and vented units.

Considering gas vs electric dryers, both pose electrical dangers if not grounded properly or connected to the right kind of outlet. Both can produce carbon monoxide if you don’t vent them properly. Dryer vents must be kept clean of lint, or they can become a fire hazard. Having a professional install your appliance cuts the risk of many of these dangers. Keeping it clean and lint free can prevent fires and malfunctions. Regular, professional maintenance heads off potential problems and risks.

Tips for using a tumble dryer

Regardless of whether you choose a gas or electric dryer, careful operation can cut energy costs and extend the useful life of your appliance. Here are some laundry energy-saving tips:

  • Keep the dryer in a heated space. Dryers in an unheated garage or basement work harder to produce enough heat to dry your clothes, which is less efficient.
  • Clean the lint filter regularly. Air flows easier when the filter isn’t clogged with lint. Cleaning your lint filter can also help prevent fires.
  • If you use dryer sheets, you should also scrub the lint filter. These sheets can leave a film on the filter which reduces its performance. Giving it a good scrubbing with an all-purpose cleaner and a toothbrush every month keeps your filter working well.
  • Don’t ignore the outside dryer vent. Check it periodically to make sure it closes tightly so that outside air does not leak in.
  • Dry only full loads. By doing this you’ll optimize energy use. Be careful not to overload the dryer. You need enough air circulating through your clothes to dry them.
  • Dry similar types of clothes together. Lightweight synthetics dry more quickly, especially when not lumped in with heavy cotton towels.
  • Dry two or more loads in a row. You can take advantage of a dryer’s retained heat when you do one load right after the other.
  • Use the cool-down perma-press cycle. Your clothes finish drying with residual heat rather than creating new heat.

In considering a gas dryer vs electric dryer, costs, performance and efficiency are key components of any decision. Well-maintained and safe operation will make either type of appliance work at its peak. Because it is one of the top energy consuming appliances in most homes, it is important to weigh the gas vs electric dryers pros and cons. Choosing a high efficiency unit will save you money every time you use it.

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Comments ( 12 )

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Donald Milotte - 10/7/2021

“How to Read Your Electric Meter” — where is that article?

Richard Dix - 8/10/2019

Keeping the dryer in a heated space makes sense in the heating season- winter. But in the summer you’re gonna draw in air you may have just paid to cool. Then you’re going to pay more to heat it again. You are going to do these things knowing that there is free hot air available outside. Life is a beach!

Christopher - 12/5/2018

Heat pumps are good in warmer climates. In MInnesota for instance my air conditioner runs maybe 60 days per year. The rest of the time a heat pump would be pulling heat from the air in the room which I just heated with natural gas.

    Constellation Community Team - 1/23/2019

    Hi Christopher, thanks for adding to the conversation! That is good insight.

Bceschi - 9/5/2018

Thank you for the very informational article!!!

    Constellation Community Team - 11/6/2018

    Hi Bceschi, you’re welcome! Happy to help.

Greg - 3/5/2018

I agree with Ellen. This article needs to mention a heat pump dryer. Their energy usage is less than a resistance electric dryer and a natural gas dryer. Natural gas is carbon-based, and always will be. Electricity is becoming more renewable every year. When considering the yearly operating costs, also consider that natural gas prices are at an unnatural and historic low due to excess supply and a ban on US exports. Natural gas is much more expensive in the rest of the world due to these factors. If natural gas prices normalize (say we ban fracking, or lift the export ban), then which is cheaper? Natural gas creates heat, and therefore can only be 100% efficient at the very best. Heat pump technology leverages existing heat already in the air and can typically be 150% efficient. Also consider the natural gas dryer’s need for a vent while a heat pump dryer is ventless. When you blow air out of the house with the vented dryer, it depressurizes the house, and draws air back into the house through doors, cracks, seems, etc. You pay to have the air heated/cooled in your house, so when you blow air out, your HVAC system has to work harder to heat/cool the new air coming in from the outside. This increases the cost of running a natural gas dryer that isn’t typically considered when doing yearly running cost calculations.

    Constellation Community Team - 4/12/2018

    Hi Greg, we think you and Ellen have provided a really great topic to cover. We’ve been putting together an Appliance Buying Guide on our website, so we will be sure to keep Heat Pump Dryers in mind moving forward.

Ellen Hershey - 12/28/2017

Of course dollar costs matter, but it’s disappointing to see yet another article that makes no mention of carbon emissions. Natural gas, marketed as a “clean” energy source, actually burns half as dirty as coal when it comes to carbon emissions. An electric dryer powered by electricity generated by rooftop solar panels is greener and cheaper by far than a natural gas dryer — once you buy the solar panels, that is! And how I wish that before buying my new electric dryer I had read up on the electric dryer referred to in the article posted by the first commenter to this blog. It uses heat pump technology, which is is very energy-efficient, and requires no venting!

    Constellation Community Team - 2/28/2018

    Ellen, thanks for sharing your input, it’s very wise! Solar is certainly one of the best (and clean) options for powering your dryer.

mai1987 - 7/29/2017

I don’t agree

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