Eco friendly dryers can significantly reduce a household energy bills and impact on the environment. The clothes dryer is the largest consumer of power amongst Canadian household appliances. For 2006, the most recent year of analysis, the Canadian Government estimates the typical clothes dryer consumes 946 kilowatt hours per year. In 1990, the average Canadian clothes dryer consumed a massive 1,314 kilowatt hours per year making it the second heaviest consumer of power amongst household appliances at that time.
When looking for an eco friendly dryer, most people typically would first think of an Energy Star dryer. Unfortunately, there are no clothes dryers that have the Energy Star label. This is because there is very little difference in energy consumption usage between various models.
There are smart purchase decisions we can make and best usage practices that should be followed to minimize the energy consumption of the dryer you own and make it an eco friendly dryer. By purchasing the most efficient appliance in its class you will save money and reduce your environmental impact. Look for the EnerGuide label to determine estimated energy consumption.
What is the EnerGuide Label?
The EnerGuide label is an initiative of the Canadian Government that allows the consumer to compare the energy efficiency and consumption levels of everyday items including personal vehicles, new houses, heating and cooling equipment and major appliances, including refrigerators. By law, the EnergGuide label must be placed on all new electrical appliances manufactured or imported into Canada.
The EnerGuide label provides useful information such as:
- average annual energy consumption of that appliance in kilowatt hours (kWh)
- annual energy consumption range for similar type and size models
- energy efficiency of the appliance relative to similar models
- the type and size of the model
There are two categories of EnerGuide ratings for clothes dryers.
Compact clothes dryers
- - 120 and 240 volt units with capacities of less than 125 liters
Standard clothes dryers
- - all standard size front loading machines
Many other countries have similar initiatives to allow consumers to educate themselves on the energy consumption and efficiency of various appliances. For example, in Australia there is the “Energy Rating” label program. The Energy Rating label has two main features:
- The star rating gives a quick comparative assessment of the model’s energy efficiency
- The comparative energy consumption (usually kilowatt hours/year) provides an estimate of the annual energy consumption of the appliance based on the tested energy consumption and information about the typical use of the appliance in the home
Natural Gas Dryers vs. Electric Dryers
In Canada, the majority of homes have a electric clothes dryer. However, it is important to remember that natural gas dryers are available and can offer significant economic and environmental savings and should be consider an option to have an eco friendly dryer in your home.
A natural gas connection is required to run a natural gas dryer, but the majority of homes only have a 240 volt electrical outlet in their laundry room. Provided you have a natural gas supply to your house, a qualified contractor should be able to extend the supply to your laundry room. Installation costs are estimated to be $150 to $250 which can be quickly recovered through the energy savings of a natural gas dryer.
There are a number of variables that will impact the cost savings of using a natural gas dryer including the cost of natural gas in your area and the usage patterns of your clothes dryer. In one analysis looking at the province of Ontario, it was estimated a typical user could save $77 per year in utility costs by using a natural gas dryer instead of an electric dryer. The Canadian Government converts the annual gas consumption of a gas dryer to a kilowatt hours per year measurement to allow for an “apples to apples” comparison of natural gas dryers to electric clothes dryers. For 2006, the most recent year of analysis, the Canadian Government estimates a new electric clothes dryer consumes 905 kilowatt hours per year compared to 880 kilowatt hours per year for a natural gas dryer. Relatively speaking, a new natural gas dryer is the most eco friendly dryer available in the market today. The initial upfront cost of a gas dryer is equal to or marginally more expensive than an electric clothes dryer.
An Eco Friendly Dryer Option?
One eco friendly product that has received a lot of positive press is a spin dryer. A spin dryer is an excellent compliment to your traditional dryer, or in some settings, it can be in lieu of your traditional dryer.
A spin dryer uses centrifugal force to remove water from your laundry (think of it like the spin cycle on your washing machine). Unlike your washing machine, it spins at a much faster rate (approximately 3,200 revolutions per minute)and it does not having a heating element. Because there is no heating element, a spin dryer uses significantly less energy than a traditional dryer and plugs into a standard 110V outlet (this also makes it ideal for cottages or RVs). However, because there is no heating element, your clothes will never be completely dry from a spin dryer alone.
Using a spin dryer for 2-3 minutes before putting your clothes in a traditional dryer will drastically cut down the amount of time required for your clothes in the dryer, and ultimately your energy bill. A spin dryer can turn your dryer into an eco friendly dryer!
A spin dryer is also useful if you hang your clothes to dry by remove large amounts of water prior to hanging your clothes making it easier for your clothes to dry (particularly heavier items) and allows them to dry quicker.
Best Usage Practices:
The best usage practice is not using your dryer at all! Look for opportunities to use a clothes line on a nice summer day or an indoor clothes drying rack.
- Clean out that lint filter! After every load the lint filter should be emptied out. Otherwise the air circulation is blocked decreasing the energy efficiency of the machine. It is also an important home safety measure
- Look for a moisture sensor option. Newer dryers have this feature which turns off the dryer automatically when the clothes are dry. Not only does this save you energy, it helps prevents unnecessary wear and tear on your clothes
- If you use dryer sheets scrub your filter on a monthly basis. A chemical film builds up on the filter decreasing air flow and forcing the dryer to work harder
- Have a full load when running your machine. Remember though, too full a load and air circulation is blocked
- Avoid putting wet clothes in a partial dry load as this increases the overall drying time
- Sort your dryer loads by the thickness of your clothes. If possible, do all your light clothes in one quick load and your heavy items in a separate load
- Run your loads back to back to back. Take advantage of an already hot dryer and put your next load in immediately
What are Dryer Balls?
Dryer balls are an eco friendly alternative to using fabric softener sheets. Dryer balls are designed to both soften your clothes and speed up the drying time. Dryer balls work in pairs. Two balls that have different tensile strengths and different shaped softening nodes are placed in your dryer while you are running a load. The two dryer balls work in combination to lift and separate the clothes in your dryer making it easier for the hot air to reach the surface area of the clothes. The dryer balls also physically breakdown the stiffness in your clothes created by the water drying. Lastly, the dryer balls retain heat which is reported to reduce drying times by up to 25% helping make your dryer an eco friendly dryer.