electric vs gas clothes dryers vs. heat pump dryers and other alternatives

Clothes dryers are energy-intensive appliances; older units consume on average more than $100 of electricity per year.

Many modern clothes dryer models are available in both gas and electric; it’s up to you to choose. There is no significant difference - in terms of features or energy efficiency - between the gas and the electric versions. The difference is in the upfront and operational costs, venting requirements and safety considerations.

Electric vs. gas dryers Costs and Prices

Typically, natural as dryers cost less to operate – but that depends largely on the gas and electric rates in your area.

Gas dryers are often slightly pricier. But the difference of price if not very significant.

Gas models require venting to the outside of the home, like most electric units (which also require a 240 V outlet); the really important difference is that gas models also require a dedicated gas line which can add to the cost of installation.

Gas vs. Electric Dryers Venting and Safety issues.

Gas clothes dryers are as safe as any other... gas appliance. Modern models do not have standing pilot lights (they use electric ignition), which makes them safer. But they require direct venting, for safety.

energy savings with Gas and Electric dryers

Good maintenance and proper use can reduce energy consumption. The rules are similar for both gas and electric dryers. Consider:Outdoor Clothes Dryer

- Running full loads instead of multiple smaller loads of clothes; doing two smaller loads of clothes instead of one full load is doubling energy costs. 
- Cleaning the dryer filter after each use - to maximize the airflow through the clothes.
Not using the time-dry feature, whenever possible; if you have a dryer with a dryness sensor, use it to automatically turn off the machine.
- Using lower temperatures: new dryers use less energy on low-heat mode. It takes more time, but that’s important for energy savings.
- Exhaust vent: clean it regularly; make sure that the flapper on the outside hood is properly sealed.
- Installing the clothes dryers on an outside wall, if possible.
- Reducing the length of the venting pipe: it’s important to have a short dryer vent system, to reduce airflow resistance.

How to select gas and electric dryers?

Qualified energy-efficient dryers are equipped with moisture sensors (to stop the drying cycle when clothes are dry), automatic cycle termination features (to avoid over-drying), delayed start and steam cycle options (to help release wrinkles and odors).

In Europe consider the TopTenEu program suggestions  (best ranked brands, for 7 Kgs loads: V-Zug, Miele, Bosch, Gorenge, Siemens and AEG).

In the US and Canada consider an Energy Star model with a high Combined Energy Factor (CEF), that is, a high energy efficiency rating (the higher the better).

Energy Star Clothes Dryers

Amana (1), Crosley (2), Electrolux (5), Fisher & Paykel (2),  Frigidaire (6), GE (10), Haier (1), Huebsch (7), Inglis (1), IPSO (5), Kenmore (18), LG (18), Maytag (9), Samsung (17), Speed Queen (14), Unimac (4), Whirlpool (12) (the figure between parenthesis indicates the number of Energy Star certified models, 2015).

There isn’t an independent and rigorous criteria comparing certified models. TopTenUSA and other independent programs aren’t comparing dryer brands and models. For a more informed purchase decision you may compare the Combined Energy Factors (CEF) of the dryers listed by the Energy Star program.

Best ranked gas dryer models on the Energy Star listing (Samsung vs. LG vs. Kenmore dryers)

Samsung - DV52J806*G*, Samsung - DV52J870*G*, LG - DLGX3371*, Kenmore - 9158####, LG - DLG3171*, LG - DLGX4271*, LG - DLGX5781*E, LG - DLGY1702*E, Kenmore - 7146####, Kenmore - 7142####, Samsung - DV48J777*G*, Samsung - DV48J770*G*

The best electric dryers (Maytag vs Whirlpool vs Kenmore)

Best ranked electric dryer models on the Energy Star listing:

Maytag - MEDB855D*+, Maytag - MED5100D*+, Maytag - MED8100D*+, Whirlpool - WED95HED*+, Whirlpool - WED87HED*+, Whirlpool - WED8740D*+, Whirlpool - WED8500D*+, Whirlpool - WED72HED*+, Whirlpool - WED95HED*+, Whirlpool - WED81HED*+, Whirlpool - WED8000D*+, Maytag - MED7100D*+, Maytag - MED3100D*+, Maytag - MED4100D*+, Maytag - MED5100D*+, Kenmore - 6813*41+, Kenmore - 6913*41+

Alternatives to gas and electric dryers: electric heat pump dryers

Heat pump dryers cost a lot more, but provide significant energy savings compared to both electric and gas dryers. Energy savings are estimated at between 30 and 50% (for Energy Star and qualified heat pump dryers), which is significant. The payback of the initial investment can be short.

Heat pump dryers do not require dryer vents, which is an important cost saving feature – compared to gas or electric clothes dryers  - in homes without an existing vent.

Since heat pump dryers removes moisture from the air, they require a drain for the water (some manufacturers offer a device that allows to use the clothes washer drain).

Other alternatives to gas and electric dryers

The best alternative to clothes dryers from an energy and environmental standpoint is… not to use them. Contrary to what happens in North America, in some European countries or in New Zealand and other parts of the world, clotheslines and clothes drying racks are highly popular alternatives.

If you live in a favorable climate, consider it. Even the best electric or gas clothes dryers are energy consuming appliances, with a significant environmental impact.

Other alternatives include dehumidifiers, drying cabinets, closets and rooms designed for the effect. Drying in cabinets and closets can be accelerated with the help of dehumidifiers and mechanical ventilation systems. More on this issue: Alternatives to cloth dryers in high efficient homes.

Which is the impact of Electric and Gas dryers on the environment?

Dryers are especially important – in their environmental impact – in America, where about 80% of all homes have a clothes dryer; according to Energy Star program if all clothes dryers sold in America were energy efficient, the US could prevent CO2 emissions equivalent to about 2,000,000 vehicles (and save about $1.5 billion each year in energy costs).

In America and many regions of the world, natural gas dryers have a less negative impact on the environment than electric dryers .

How can it be possible?

It’s simple: this happens in many regions of the world because a significant part of the electricity comes from the burning of coal (a particularly pollutant fossil fuel…), which is much more polluting than natural gas. Natural gas, when burned, emits lower quantities of CO2 and other pollutants than do other fossil fuels (natural gas is more easily fully combusted, and contains fewer impurities than other fossil fuels).

Obviously, the situation is reversed if the electricity used by the electric dryers is generated by renewable sources of energy.






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