How Much Does the Average US Household Spend on Machine Drying Clothes?
About 80% of US households own a clothes dryer. These households do about 5 or 6 loads of laundry per week, spending an average of $85 per year to machine dry their clothes.
The cost to dry clothes can vary greatly depending on if the dryer is fueled by electricity or by natural gas. Electric dryers can be found in 80% of households with a dryer. Natural gas dryers exist in most of the other homes, minus a small handful that are fueled by propane.
Homes with an electric dryer spend an average of $98 per year to machine dry clothes, while homes with a natural gas dryer spend about $30. However, this does not necessarily mean you should switch to a natural gas dryer. Many homes aren’t connected to natural gas lines, and some states (like California) are banning natural gas appliances from being installed in new buildings.
How Much Money Do You Spend to Machine Dry Your Clothes?
To calculate how much money you spend to use your dryer every year, you need to know 3 things:
- The number of times you run your dryer on each cycle type per year.
- The amount of energy each cycle type requires per load.
- The price your utility companies charge per unit of energy.
Once you know how much energy you use for each cycle type and how many times you run each cycle type per year, you can multiply your total energy consumption by the price your utilities charge for energy. Read the 3 sections below for a bit more information about determining your dryer’s energy usage!
How Often Do You Run Your Dryer?
The average household with a dryer runs about 6 loads a week (or 320 loads per year). More than 1 in a 100 households run their dryers more than 15 times per week!
Most dryers have multiple dry settings, like low-heat, delicates, permanent press, etc. These different modes use different amounts of energy. So your calculation will be more accurate if you have a good estimate of how many times you run each drying type throughout the year.
How Much Energy Does Your Dryer Use?
A dryer’s energy usage can be broken into 2 categories: operation and heat. The operation energy is the energy required to adjust your settings plus the energy required to tumble your clothes. Operation energy is always powered by electricity. The heat energy is the energy used to heat your clothes. This energy can be fueled by electricity, natural gas, or propane.
As mentioned above, the amount of energy required to dry a load of clothes depends on which settings you choose. The specification sheets for your dryer should provide details about energy consumption for each setting type.
How Much Money Are You Charged for Energy?
The average price for electricity in US homes is $0.12 per kWh. The average price for natural gas is about $10 per thousand cubic feet. Stay tuned for our future article about utility bills for a deeper dive into how to determine your pricing breakdown.
How Can You Reduce the Cost of Drying Your Clothes?
There are several super simple strategies you can follow to reduce the cost of drying your clothes. Arguably the easiest strategy (and the one that will provide the most savings) is to hang dry your clothes. Air drying your clothes will eliminate all costs of machine drying your clothes! But if you do decide to machine dry your clothes, we’ve put together some savings tricks for you to follow that cover drying logistics, controls, and upgrades.
- Use dryer while it’s still warm. If you have multiple loads of laundry to do, make sure to switch clothes in and out of the dryer while the dryer is still warm. The remaining heat from the previous load will immediately start to dry the new load.
- Dry heavy cottons separately from light cottons. Since heavier cottons take longer to dry than lighter cottons, it’s best to separate them, especially if you have multiple loads of laundry to do. You can dry heavier items like towels and sweatpants together in one load, and lighter cottons like t-shirts and shorts together in a separate load.
- Replace dryer sheets with a dryer ball. Using a wool or rubber dryer ball instead of dryer sheets can save money by decreasing drying time. The dryer balls separate your clothes, which allows more air flow and reduces the drying time. Another great benefit of using dryer balls instead of dryer sheets is that material from dryer sheets can clog the dryer and reduce airflow. This makes the dryer less efficient. But even if you don’t use dryer sheets, it’s super important to keep your filters clean to maintain the dryer’s efficiency.
- Run your dryer during non-peak hours. Non-peak hours refer to when electricity demand is not at its highest. This is usually late at night. We’ll discuss this further in our future episode about utility bills. But in general, it can be cheaper to operate non-time-sensitive appliances like washing machines, dryers, and dishwashers at night.
- Schedule your dryer loads. Many people are asleep during non-peak electricity hours. But the good news is that many new dryers have the option to schedule the start time of the drying cycle. So you can simply program the dryer to run late at night, even if you’re already asleep.
- Use low-heat mode. Even though low-heat settings usually take a bit more time for the clothes to dry, they can ultimately use less energy because they don’t have to work so hard to get the air to super high temperatures. And cooler drying temperatures can be much easier on your clothes, allowing them to last longer! This saves you money on purchasing clothes.
- Select “Sensor Dry” instead of “Time Dry”. Most dryers have sensors that measure the moisture level of your clothes. You can minimize your clothes drying time if you choose the “sensor dry” setting instead of the “timed dry” setting. This makes sure that the dryer stops running as soon as it senses that the clothes are dry.
- Upgrade to an EnergyStar dryer. If you upgrade to a standard Energy Star dryer, you can save about 20% on your dryer costs. So that would bring down the average US household’s annual dryer cost from $85 to just $68.
- Upgrade to an EnergyStar heat pump dryer. If you upgrade to an Energy Star heat pump dryer, you can save between 20% and 60% of your annual savings! The reason for the range is that heat pumps perform differently depending on the climate. But if we assume 40% savings, that reduces the US national average from $85 to just $51! Heat pump dryers provide even further savings because the technology doesn’t require a dryer vent. So that means the dryer can be installed anywhere in your house, and you don’t have to pay to construct a vent if you don’t already have one. But be sure to seal an existing dryer vent if you switch to a heat pump dryer so you’re not letting outdoor air inside the house.
- Select appropriate washer/dryer sizing. Make sure to choose a dryer that is the correct size for your needs. The sizes of dryers and washers are usually measured in cubic feet. And washers and dryers are usually designed in pairs (although you aren’t required to purchase both at the same time). Within the washer-dryer pairs, the washer is usually half as many cubic feet as the dryer. This is so the clothes in the dryer have room to air out so the dryer can operate efficiently. A common sizing of a washer-dryer pair would be a 3.5 cubic foot washer and a 7 cubic foot dryer. For reference, this pair would be big enough to effectively wash and dry a queen size comforter.
Disclaimer: Please consult with a professional before making any upgrades to your dryer, laundry room, or home. Any and all upgrades should maintain proper health, safety, and sanitation levels within your homes. It All Adds Up and its affiliates are not responsible for any household damage or personal injuries that should occur from following any suggestions from It All Adds Up.