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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
In deciding which is better, gas or electric dryers, electric dryers have their own set of pros and cons to factor into your decision:
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.
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.
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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“How to Read Your Electric Meter” — where is that article?
Hi Donald – You can find our post on How to Read Your Electric Meter at: https://blog.constellation.com/2021/08/30/how-to-read-electric-meter/. Thank you for reading the Constellation blog!
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!
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.
Hi Christopher, thanks for adding to the conversation! That is good insight.
Thank you for the very informational article!!!
Hi Bceschi, you’re welcome! Happy to help.
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.
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.
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!
Ellen, thanks for sharing your input, it’s very wise! Solar is certainly one of the best (and clean) options for powering your dryer.
I don’t agree
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