How much electricity do washers and dryers use in your home?
When we think about the items and appliances in our home that use a lot of energy, we generally look to two culprits. First is the heating and/or AC unit, which is essential to staying comfortable at home, and the second is our tumble dryer. Dryers have become staples in homes all over the world, and most of us can’t imagine how we would get by without them, but how much are they actually costing us?
In this article, we’ll take a look at how much energy these luxurious-but-necessary appliances use and how much that costs on average.
How much electricity does a dryer use?
How much electricity your dryer uses will vary, but you can always find the exact wattage in the manual it came with, or by looking up the model online. Dryers use around 1,800 – 5,000 watts, with 3,000 being the average.
Since your bill will be calculated in kilowatts per hour (kWh), you need only do a simple calculation to figure out how much that actually costs you. For example, two loads of washing typically take 2 hours to dry. So, taking 3,000 as our average, that looks like:
- 3000 x 2 = 6000
You then take the total watts used and divide it by 1,000 to find out how many kilowatt hours it used (6000 / 1000 = 6), and so two loads adds up to 6 kWh.
Everyone is charged a different amount for energy and in most cases will be charged per kWh. So take a look at your most recent bill to see what you pay on average during the time you normally dry your clothes. So, if you pay $0.13 per kWh, which is around the US average1, you’d be paying:
- 6 x 0.13 = $0.78
So, if you’re in an area that charges around the US average, you’ll pay around $0.40 per load. That’s not too bad, and if you have a newer dryer, it may be even more energy efficient.
Do dryers use a lot of power?
Yes, though they do so over a shorter period of time than many other popular appliances.
For example, let’s compare your dryer to your TV, which (if relatively new) will use between 100-300 watts. Your TV could cost you a tenth of what your dryer costs you in the same period. The average time a TV is on in the US is 4.5 hours a day2 – that means in a week, your TV will be on for around 31.5 hours.
- 31.5 x 200 watts = 6300 watts.
So, a week’s worth of evening TV watching will cost you around the same as 2 hours of dryer use.
How much electricity do a washer and dryer use together?
A washer typically uses less watts than a dryer – generally between 1,200 and 3,000. So, using the figures from our first example, a washer running for an hour would cost:
- 2000 x 1 (hour) = 2000 watts
- 2000 watts / 1000 = 2 kWh
So, 2 kWh at $0.13 per hour would cost you $0.26.
One load of washing will cost you $0.26, and if it costs you $0.39 to dry (as per our above example), one load of washing costs you $0.65 to wash and dry.
Together, they use a total of 5 kWh.
How much does it cost to run a tumble dryer for an hour?
If a 3,000 watt dryer costs $0.78 to run for two hours, it will cost you $0.39 per hour.
- 3000 x 1 = 3000
- 3000 / 1000 = 3 kWh
- 3 x the cost of a kWh at $0.13 = $0.39
How much does it cost to run a dryer for 30 minutes?
Your dryer may have a quick-dry or eco-feature that allows you to dry or semi-dry small loads more quickly, and so may cost you less than a full load. However, while we can’t calculate for all individual models, we can calculate the cost of running a dryer the same way we did above.
- 3000 watts x 0.5 (half an hour) = 1500
- 1500 / 1000 = 1.5 kWh
- 1.5 x the cost of a kWh at $0.13 = $0.20 (rounded up half a cent)
How much energy does a dryer use per day?
This depends entirely on how many loads you do in a day, so let’s calculate for a few different types of laundry days, assuming you do all your laundry in one day.
A single person will likely need to do two full loads of laundry per week. If their dryer uses an average of 3,000 watts per hour, and each load takes a maximum of one hour to dry, they’ll use 6 kWh a day.
A couple doing 2 loads each will double that, using 12 kWh over 4 hours.
A family of 4 may double that again, using 24 kWh over 8 hours.
Is a heated airer better than a tumble dryer?
No – while they use less energy (typically around 250 watts), they’re not as efficient and can increase the humidity in your home, which can lead to dampness and mold problems if you aren’t careful. While they save space compared to a dryer, they can’t manage the 11+ lbs of wet clothes a dryer can.
Plus, even the cheapest tumble dryers on the market are now low wattage, meaning you could find one that uses around 1,000 watts, which will be much more efficient than any heated airer you can find.
What is the cheapest tumble dryer to run?
The cheapest tumble dryer to run is always changing as new technology comes out. However, you can always consider one with an Energy Star rating. Energy Star has a list of their certified dryers so you can compare models to see which are the most efficient3.
If an Energy Star-rated dryer is out of your price range, make sure you compare models and look at reviews. While the cheapest dryer on the market may only use 850 watts, if it takes 2 hours to dry what another dryer that uses 1,000 watts can do in 1 hour, it may not be the most efficient. So, look at reviews, seek out how many watts it uses, and choose the best option based on your needs and budget.
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