How much does it cost to run a tumble dryer? We reveal all, plus ways to save

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  • When there’s no space to dry wet washing inside or you have multiple loads of laundry each week, a tumble dryer is a fast and convenient solution. But how much does it cost to run a tumble dryer?

    Depending on which type you have, tumble dryers can be expensive to use. And if you’re running yours regularly, the costs can mount up.

    If you install a smart meter, you’ll be able to monitor the costs of running a tumble dryer easily. However, if not, we’ve worked out how much you can expect to spend each cycle – as well as clever ways to cut your energy bills.

    How much does it cost to run a tumble dryer?

    According to the Energy Saving Trust, the national average price (as of November 2021) per pence/kWh of electricity is 20.33p. We have rounded it to 20p for illustration purposes. Be aware that prices are due to rise by approximately 50% from April 2022.

    There are three types of tumble dryer – vented, condenser and heat pump. Vented machines are often perceived as using more energy, although newer models include drying sensors that make them more efficient. The real difference comes from the more energy efficient heat-pump tumble dryers. Here are the costs of running all three for comparison:

    Image credit: Tim Young

    Are some tumble dryers cheaper to run than others?

    Vented tumble dryers can be costly to run over an average year. They also may not be suitable for all homes as they’ll need to placed near a wall or window so the moist air can be expelled.

    How much does it cost to run a tumble dryer? We reveal all, plus ways to save

    Condenser dryers lift the moisture from the clothes and collect it in a container that sits inside the machine. Some will pump the water out through plumbing or you may need to empty the container. On average, they’re slightly more affordable to run than vented machines.

    Heat pump tumble dryers work like a condenser dryer, collecting the moisture in a container, but they work more efficiently by re-heating the air that is passed through the drum (using a heat exchange system, not more electricity) and recirculating it. This means they use less energy and are cheaper to run.

    ‘Don’t be afraid to ask a retailer to explain the technology within tumble dryers to decide which type is most suited to your household,’ says Kimberley Garner, Hotpoint brand manager. ‘You will find that vented models are usually the least expensive to buy while heat pump models tend to be the most expensive. However your retailer will be able to explain how you will save money on your energy bills in the long run.’

    What energy saving features should I look for when buying a tumble dryer?

    If you’re looking for ways to save energy at home, these tumble dryer tricks and features could be a good place to start

    Many tumble dryers – even vented models – now feature sensor drying, which works out how long your clothes need to dry and stops when they’re ready. Not only does this help to cut bills, it’ll prevent damage to fibres so clothes look good for longer, and keep the tumble dryer working well.

    ‘Take the guesswork out of choosing drying times by selecting a dryness level,’ explains Kimberley Garner. ‘When sensors identify that the clothes have dried to the level required, the dryer automatically finishes.’ This is ideal if you only need bed sheets to be ‘iron dry’.

    Many heat pump machines use lower temperatures to both protect your clothes and use less energy. Some also have drum movements to prevent clumping so warm air can circulate efficiently.

    ‘This feature uses water collected during the drying phase to clean fluff from the condenser at the end of each cycle,’ says Kimberley Garner. ‘This ensures long-lasting performance and reliability, and also saves money and time.’

    Image credit: Ti-Media

    How can I cut the cost of running a tumble dryer?

    If you’re on a cheaper off-peak tariff, take advantage of your tumble dryer’s delay start feature and run it during the night.

    Wetter clothes take much longer to dry, meaning more work for your tumble dryer. Use a higher spin on your washing machine so there’s less water in your laundry before drying starts.

    If a load of laundry has clumped together in the washing machine, it’s a good idea to loosen it before you put it in the tumble dryer. This means that warm air can circulate more easily between the layers of fabric, shortening drying times. Similarly, don’t overload the tumble dryer, and dry similar fabrics together.

    You’ll find it in the drum, usually below the door opening, made from two strips of metal. Wipe it down regularly with white vinegar and a cloth. Our guide to how to clean a tumble dryer explains more.

    Our example 9kg vented machine mentioned above uses 2.9 kWh for a half load, compared to 5.34 kWh for a full one.

    Lint restricts the airflow, making drying less efficient, so every cycle will cost more to run. If your machine is vented, make sure the wall vent is fluff-free too, and that there’s no kink in the hose.