Watch out for this energy hog

20140617_energyhog_blogYou may be surprised to learn that the biggest electricity guzzler in your house isn’t your TV or refrigerator.  That special honor goes to… your clothes dryer.

Dryers use between 1,800 to 5,000 watts per cycle, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.  Compare that to washers, which only use 350 to 500, or even your refrigerator, which uses 725.  Because of this, the machines account for a whopping 2% of electricity consumption in the U.S.

And considering that the average American does 400 loads of laundry per year, the bills can add up quickly—to the amount of $136 per year, according to the ACEEE.

Unfortunately, technology hasn’t caught up to the dryer market, so few energy-efficient options are available.  But there are still simple steps you can take to reduce the amount of  power used to dry your shirts and trousers.

Try these tips to lower your bills:

  • Minimize how often you do laundry:  Hang clothes to dry whenever possible.  If you must use the dryer, make sure the load is filled to the top to avoid the number of times you run the machine.  Try not to dry clothes more than once a week.
  • Use low heat settings that consume less energy.
  • Clean the lint screens after every load to improve air circulation and efficiency.  Periodically inspect the vents to make sure those are not blocked, as well.
  • Don’t over-dry your clothes.  If your machine has one, use a moisture sensor—which automatically shuts a drier off when the clothes are dry.
  • Use the cool-down cycle to allow the clothes to finish drying with the heat remaining in the dryer.

If you have more tips, leave them in the comments below!

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3 Responses to Watch out for this energy hog

  1. Mike Cowden says:

    If someone has an electric dryer, they might also have an electric water heater. I always thought that was the #1 consumer of power in an electric appliance household. Keep lint screens, exhaust pipes, and the outlet clean to make sure there is as little resistance as possible to air flowing out of the dryer to the outside of the house. Lint can accumulate on the outside vent hinges and prevent it from opening and closing properly, leading to additional loss of heating/cooling. It’s another conduit of humid air in the summer time, so make sure that dryer vent duct is sealed up. Make sure the dryer door closes all the way when you’re done so the light doesn’t stay on. Also, use the longest and fastest spin cycle with the washing machine so more of the water is removed before the clothes even get to the dryer. That way, the dryer won’t have to run as long to get the clothes dry.

  2. Ken L says:

    The energy consumption figures you give are not accurate. You say a dryer uses “1800 to 5000 watts per cycle”. Watts are not a unit of energy, but of power. The energy per cycle would be measured in watt-hours. (And this only applies to electric dryers. Most homes use gas dryers, which use much less electricity.) And even though a refrigerator uses only 725 watts, it cycles on & off 24/7, so the total energy used by a refrigerator would be about 8700 watt-hours per day assuming 50% on time. One load in a dryer takes less than an hour, so an electric dryer would use less than 5000 watt-hours per load, which is not even every day.

  3. Sandy says:

    Is America on the way to Third World Status? Come on, wake up! The world has plenty of affordable energy for all to enjoy industrious, comfortable lives. Get the crony capitalists and politicians out of this artificially controlled “climate warming” scam and the world would be a better place. This is nothing more than charging a whole lot more for a whole less more, and reducing our standard of living.

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