What are high-efficiency dryers?

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If you’re in the market for a new clothes dryer, you may have come across high-efficiency dryers. These appliances are marketed as energy and cost-saving options, but what does “high-efficiency” really mean? Essentially, the efficiency of a dryer is determined by how well it removes moisture from clothes using a given amount of energy. Factors such as the amount of water left in clothes after they are washed, the air temperature and humidity inside the dryer, and the flow of air across the clothes can all impact a dryer’s efficiency.

  • All dryers sold in the United States must meet minimum efficiency standards set by the Department of Energy. However, high-efficiency dryers must exceed these standards and be at least 20% more efficient than regular dryers, according to EnergyStar.

Do high-efficiency dryers exist?

Currently, high-efficiency dryers do not exist in American appliance stores. Energy Star does not even rate clothes dryers due to the fact that all dryers on the U.S. market today use about the same amount of energy. While some dryers marketed as part of high-efficiency washer/dryer sets may have energy-saving functions, they are not actually using fewer kilowatt-hours (kWh) to dry the same amount of clothes. However, there are new dryer models in development, such as heat pump dryers, that aim to meet or exceed Energy Star requirements and are already being sold in Europe.

These high-efficiency dryers are currently not available in the United States due to their higher cost compared to regular dryers, which is about $300 more. However, European consumers can justify spending the extra cash on energy-efficient dryers since energy is more expensive in Europe. The European dryer’s energy savings will pay for itself faster than it would in the U.S. Heat pump dryers on the market take twice as long to dry laundry compared to standard dryers, which is their disadvantage. Prototype models being tested for the U.S. market have resolved this longer drying time, but a consumer survey found that U.S. consumers are still too skeptical of the 50 to 60 percent increase in energy efficiency to justify the extra cost. Despite this, heat pump dryers may soon be available in the U.S. In addition, research is underway on microwave technology that can dry clothes the same way it heats food, but the technology is not yet fully developed.

Clothes dryers in the U.S. consume an estimated 66 billion kWh of energy annually, accounting for about six percent of total energy usage. A 10 percent increase in the efficiency of electric dryers can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by seven million metric tons every year. Americans can only dry their clothes in an energy-efficient way by using a clothesline and solar power, but line-drying has its hassles, including extra time spent hanging clothes and waiting for them to dry, and the unpredictability of the weather on laundry day. However, newer dryers have temperature and moisture sensors that save energy and prevent over-drying of clothes, with the moisture sensor being more accurate and saving 15 percent more energy than the temperature sensor. Using a faster or extended spin cycle on the washer also helps the dryer work more efficiently.

Choosing between a gas or electric dryer will depend on the type of hookup you have in your laundry room. Although gas dryers are more expensive initially, they cost less to operate over time and may ultimately save you money [source: California Energy Commission]. Use the provided calculator to determine if replacing an old dryer or switching to a gas model would be cost-effective. According to Flex Your Power, a gas dryer costs 15 to 33 cents per load, while an electric dryer costs 32 to 41 cents per load. For more information on dryers, laundry, and energy efficiency, visit the related articles and links listed below. These sources include information from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, Energy Star, and the US Department of Energy.


1. What are ‘high-efficiency’ dryers?

‘High-efficiency’ dryers are a type of clothes dryer that uses less energy and water than traditional dryers. They are designed to dry clothes faster and more efficiently, using advanced technologies such as moisture sensors and heat pumps to reduce energy consumption. These dryers are also known as ‘HE’ dryers and are often labeled with an Energy Star rating, indicating that they meet certain environmental standards set by the US Environmental Protection Agency.

2. How do high-efficiency dryers work?

High-efficiency dryers use a variety of technologies to reduce energy consumption and improve drying performance. Some models use moisture sensors to detect when clothes are dry and automatically shut off the dryer, while others use heat pumps to recycle hot air and reduce energy usage. Many high-efficiency dryers also have advanced features such as steam cleaning, which can help remove wrinkles and stains from clothes without using harsh chemicals.

3. What are the benefits of using a high-efficiency dryer?

The main benefit of using a high-efficiency dryer is that it can save you money on your energy bills. These dryers use less energy and water than traditional models, which can add up to significant savings over time. They also tend to be quieter and more durable than older models, and they often come with advanced features such as steam cleaning and customizable drying cycles.

4. Are high-efficiency dryers more expensive than traditional dryers?

High-efficiency dryers can be more expensive upfront than traditional models, but they can also save you money in the long run by reducing your energy bills. The cost of a high-efficiency dryer depends on the brand and model, but most models are priced between $600 and $1,500.

5. Do high-efficiency dryers require any special maintenance?

High-efficiency dryers require regular maintenance to ensure optimal performance. This includes cleaning the lint filter after every use, checking the vent hose for obstructions, and having the dryer serviced by a professional every few years. Some models also require occasional cleaning of the moisture sensor to ensure accurate drying times.

6. How long do high-efficiency dryers typically last?

High-efficiency dryers are designed to be more durable than traditional models and typically last between 10 and 15 years with proper maintenance. However, the lifespan of a dryer can vary depending on factors such as usage, maintenance, and the quality of the dryer itself.

7. Can high-efficiency dryers handle large loads of laundry?

Most high-efficiency dryers are designed to handle large loads of laundry, making them ideal for families or individuals who do a lot of laundry. However, it’s important to read the specifications of the dryer you’re considering to ensure it can handle the size of loads you typically wash.

8. Are high-efficiency dryers compatible with all types of laundry detergent?

High-efficiency dryers are compatible with most types of laundry detergent, but it’s important to use a low-sudsing detergent that is designed for high-efficiency machines. Using a regular detergent in a high-efficiency machine can cause excessive sudsing and may damage the machine.

9. Do high-efficiency dryers require a special type of electrical outlet?

Most high-efficiency dryers require a 240-volt electrical outlet, which is different from the standard 120-volt outlet used in most homes. If you’re considering purchasing a high-efficiency dryer, it’s important to make sure your home’s electrical system can accommodate the dryer’s power requirements.

10. Are high-efficiency dryers louder than traditional dryers?

High-efficiency dryers tend to be quieter than traditional models, thanks to advanced technologies such as noise-reducing insulation and vibration dampening. However, the noise level of a dryer can vary between models and brands, so it’s important to read reviews and compare specifications before making a purchase.

11. Can high-efficiency dryers be stacked with a washing machine?

Many high-efficiency dryers are designed to be stacked with a matching washing machine, which can save space in smaller laundry rooms. However, it’s important to make sure the dryer is compatible with the washing machine before attempting to stack them. Some models may require a special stacking kit or have weight limitations that must be taken into account.

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