How Much Electricity Does a Dryer Use?

ResidentialCalendarNovember 19, 2018

Remember opening your last electricity bill? How was that? Probably not great. Your eyes scanned the charges and total cost, your mind started to wander. You were trying to figure out if there was a way to reduce energy usage and these upward-creeping energy costs. 

Maybe you started a tally of the various appliances your family uses: the ceiling fan, your electric heater, how about the dryer? How much electricity does a dryer use?

We’ll walk you through the steps to figure out how much your dryer contributes to your monthly electricity bill and how much it might cost you per year. We’ll also break down how a dryer compares to other major appliances in terms of wattage, and look at ways to increase efficiency and reduce energy costs. 

How Much Electricity Does a Clothes Dryer Use?

Clothes dryers can require anywhere from 1800 to 5000 watts of energy. You can find the wattage for your dryer in your owner's manual, or look up your model online. Most use around 3000 watts. For our example, we’ll use this number. 

To find how much electricity is used and what the cost would be for a dryer with this wattage, multiply the number of watts times the number of hours you use the dryer every day.

3000 watts x 2 hours = 6000 

Now, divide this number by 1000 to find the kilowatt hours used when you dry your clothes. 

6000 / 1000 = 6 kWh

So, we know how many kilowatt hours are used when you run the dryer on a regular day. Next, we find out how much it costs by multiplying the number of kilowatt hours by the cost per kilowatt hour through your utility company. For this example, we’ll say it’s $0.18 per kilowatt hour. 

6 x 0.18 = $1.08 

At this utility rate, it will cost you a little more than a dollar per load to use your clothes dryer. Now multiply this by the number of times you’ll use your dryer in a given month. 

1.08 x 20 = $21.60

The last step is to multiply this number by 12 to get the total cost per year. 

21.60 x 12 = $259.20

So, there you have it. Using your clothes dryer consistently for one year will cost you just shy of $260 in electricity. Energy.gov has an energy calculator that you can use to find the energy use and cost of different appliances in your home. 

Clothes Dryer Energy Use Versus Other Appliances

When you’re spending that much money on energy as just a portion of your yearly energy costs, you might feel like unplugging everything and reading by candlelight. But dryers are one of the more energy-thirsty appliances you probably have at home. 

A ceiling fan uses between 10 and 120 watts, the average microwave oven uses 1200 watts, and an electric heater uses 1500 watts. You can practically use all of these various appliances to add up to one drying cycle with clothes dryers!

Air conditioners come closest to, or even exceed, a clothes dryer by using between 750 and 3500 watts of energy. 

The good news is there are new energy-efficient dryers available now. Energy Star appliances use 20 percent less energy than standard dryers.1 They even have heat sensors that detect when your clothes are dry and stop the cycle to conserve energy and save money. 

Solutions to Boost Energy Efficiency + Alternatives 

Whether or not you’re ready to invest in a new energy-efficient dryer just yet, there are practical ways that you can reduce your energy usage when drying laundry.2

  • If your utility company charges for peak and off-peak hours, move laundry time to the evening or whenever your off-peak hours are. 
  • Dry heavy towels and heavier clothing separately from lighter-weight materials. 
  • Check clothes for dryness and take them out if they’re ready. No need to overdry and waste the energy. 
  • Clean the lint trap after every drying load and occasionally use a vacuum extension to remove the dust and lint that’s collected in the lint screen slot. 
  • Make sure your dryer vent isn’t blocked (this is important for energy efficiency and to prevent a fire)
  • Hang laundry outside to air dry. Another option is to hang clothes on hangers around the house. This will also help alleviate dry air in the winter, and act a natural humidifier. 

Using these smart tips to reduce electricity use is a good idea whether you have an energy-efficient dryer or not. You’ll see a drop in how much electricity you use and in how much money you spend on drying your clothes. 

 

Endnotes

1 https://www.energystar.gov/products/appliances/clothes_dryers
2 https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/appliances-and-electronics/laundry

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