How Much Energy Does a Clothes Dryer Use?

By Erin Hynes | Dec. 30, 2021 1:45 pm PST

All standard dryers use about the same amount of energy because they all work the same way. A motor rotates the drum while a fan circulates hot air through the clothes to dry them. In fact, dryers are so similar in energy use that they don’t use the EnergyGuide® comparison tag that most appliances are required to have.

Here are more facts about dryer energy use:

  • Most of the energy used by the dryer heats air. Only a small fraction of energy powers the drive motor and controls. You can essentially ignore energy used by the motor and control components when considering dryer energy use.

  • Although gas and electric dryers use about the same amount of energy, drying clothes in a gas dryer typically costs less than half of the cost to dry the same load in an electric dryer. The burner in a gas dryer heats air more efficiently and natural gas costs less than electricity.

  • Dryers typically use around 2 kWh of energy to dry a medium load of laundry. For an electric dryer, that will cost you about 24 cents per load or around $5/month to dry 5 loads per week. Drying an average load of laundry is a gas dryer will cost you around 10 cents per load equating to about $2/month for 5 loads per week.

What Affects Dryer Energy Use?

Exact energy use per load depends on many factors. These are the major issues that affect dryer energy use:

  • Type of items in the load (such as towels, jeans or sheets). Heavier items will absorb more heat as they tumble so the heating system stays on longer during the first half of the cycle when drying towels and jeans. The dryer will use more energy to dry heavier items.

  • Size of the load. The heating system stays on longer during the much of the cycle when you’re drying a large load because the heavy load absorbs more heat than a medium or small load. The heating system won’t cycle off as much when the clothes absorb more heat so the dryer uses more energy to dry a large load.

  • Cycle temperature setting. Using a high heat setting will cause the heating system to stay on longer to heat air inside the drum. Drying clothes using the high heat setting uses more energy than using a low heat setting.

  • Initial dryness level of garments in the load. Using the high-speed spin setting on the washer will wring more water out of garments. If items placed in the dryer are relatively dry, the heating system will cycle off more often and use less energy to dry clothes.

  • Exhaust vent airflow. If the exhaust vent system going to the outside of your home is partially blocked with lint, or you don’t clean the lint screen before starting the dryer, the air inside the dryer will heat up quickly but the load will stay moist due to lack of air flow. The heating system will cycle off more often but the dryer will take longer to dry the load. Overall, the dryer will use more energy when exhaust air flow is constricted.

How Can I Minimize Dryer Energy Usage?

Follow these tips to dry clothes efficiently in your dryer.

  • Clean the lint screen before starting each load of laundry to ensure proper air flow through the dryer. Wash the lint screen with water and a soft-bristle brush monthly to remove residue that builds up on the screen.

  • Clear lint from the exhaust duct system regularly so air flows freely to the outside of your home.

  • Don’t overload the dryer. Air can’t flow properly through the drum when the dryer is overloaded.

  • Schedule annual maintenance checks by a technician to keep your dryer working efficiently.

Following these energy-saving tips will save you money on your electric bills and help your dryer last longer. Minimizing dryer energy use also helps the environment.

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