Image: Touchstone Energy
If you are in the market for a new clothes dryer, there are plenty of new features to get excited about. This hum-drum appliance has gone both high-tech and become more energy efficient.
It starts with Energy Star
All dryers newer than 2014 must be 5 percent more energy efficient than previous models. Clothes dryers began being certified as an Energy Star product in 2015 so consumers know which dryers are the most energy efficient. That’s important because dryers use more energy than your refrigerator, clothes washer or dishwasher, and Energy Star dryers use, on average, 20 percent less energy than conventional models. And because an average family washes and dries about 300 loads of laundry each year, you might capture a load of savings by replacing your current dryer with an energy-efficient model.
One way that dryers are rated is by a Combined Energy Factor (CEF). The higher the CEF, the more energy efficient the dryer. You can find and compare Energy Star-certified dryers at Energy Star based on their CEF, price and other details.
Dryer features: Must have and more
There are “must have” features and others that you might consider as you search for your perfect dryer.
- Dryer moisture or dryness sensors so you can custom-select the amount of dryness, is an energy-saving feature
- Temperature controls allow you to select a higher heat quick dry or a low or fluff cycle for delicates. A permanent press cycle includes a cool-down cycle, reducing wrinkles
- A dryer drum light isn’t always a standard feature and most consumers consider this a must-have
- Ability to choose a hinge that can open on either the right or left (most people prefer the opening to be opposite the washer for easy transfer of wet clothes into the dryer)
Other features available
- A noise-reduction system, especially if your laundry room is close to the kitchen or bedrooms
- National Sanitation Foundation (NSF)-certified appliances kill 99.9 percent of some household bacteria
- Steam cleaning cycle to remove light stains and odors; some even allow you to sanitize items like pillows and toys
- Drying rack that rests horizontally in the drum to keep delicates or clunky items from tumbling
- A lint filter light to remind you to clean the filter and a vent blockage monitor to avoid a potential fire
- Accessories such as shelving units that fit between the washer and dryer, a pedestal base to raise the dryer (to minimize bending) or a folding table that sits on top
- Detangling features that can leave large objects such as bedding wrinkle-free
- An express or speed cycle uses increased airflow for faster drying
- Dual temperature heating elements that heat and cool the dryer more efficiently
- Reverse-tumble drums change direction as they run to keep clothes from clumping
- Smart dryers can track your energy usage, provide smart phone alerts when the load is done, start or stop the dryer remotely, let you know when it’s time to call the repair company (and also does its own troubleshooting and self-diagnosis, to boot). Dryers can also update their software through your phone and let Alexa notify you about the status of a load.
- An all-in-one machine that is a combo washer/dryer
Heat pump dryers
Perhaps one of the most exciting new technologies available is the heat pump dryer. Look for heat pump dryers to become more popular in the U.S. in coming years. They’re already popular in Europe, with at least 25 models in the marketplace.
They are popular because they use up to 60 percent less energy than standard electric dryers and they are ventless. According to Energy Star, heat pump dryers take in ambient air, heat it and then recirculate it in the dryer to maintain the temperature without using much energy. Instead of releasing moist air through a dryer vent to the exterior of the home as a conventional dryer does, the heat pump passes humid air in the dryer drum through a condenser to remover the moisture without losing too much heat. The condensed moisture (water) from the drum is drained or emptied out of a holding tank close to the dryer.
There are models available in the U.S., but prices are still high.