🌎⚡️ The best clothes dryer you can buy is...
Why punch a hole in your wall if you don't need to?
The best clothes dryer you can buy.
The best clothes dryer you can buy is a heat pump dryer.
You’d be mistaken for thinking the most power-hungry appliance in your home was your toddler(s), but however adorable, and however unquenchable their hunger for Cheez-its, your litter pales in comparison to your clothes dryer.
Don’t have a toddler?
Clothes dryer already powered by electricity (88% of American homes are, the rest are powered by natural gas)?
That’s so great for you.
But upgrading to an efficient heat pump dryer can save you a ton of cash — and of course, help reduce carbon emissions along the way.
What To Consider
⚡️Cost. New dryers aren’t cheap, but IRA can help transition from gas (but you’re probably already electric)
⚡️Space. Heat pump dryers need space to take air in, and vent it out. To stack or not to stack?
The Best Option
For efficiency and performance, go with a ventless heat pump dryer.
You already read our Recommendation for heat pump water heaters, so you get the idea:
Heat pump dryers use a heat pump to both heat up the room air on one side, and cool down the air on the other side, you’re welcome.
Your existing dryer, if you’re an adult who has done their own laundry, is probably vented. It takes air from your laundry room area, heats it up to remove moisture from your clothes, and then exhausts the damp, warm air outside your home using a duct through the wall or window.
All in all — even though your drier is probably already powered by electricity — this is a pretty inefficient process. Not only does it dump warm air, but it also removes precious climate-controlled air from the room and leaves a hole in your wall for more air to escape through.
Meanwhile, ventless dryers — the bees-knees in Europe for a while now — take in a much smaller amount of room air, heat it up to remove moisture (read: apple juice) from your clothes, and then cool the air down to cause the moisture to condense back into liquid water, where it can be collected in a water tank or dumped down a drain.
The air is then recirculated until your clothes are dry. And because there’s no vent, you don’t need a hole punched in the wall, which is great for renters and condo owners who can’t do that and people who are not inclined to punch holes in the exterior walls of their home.
And when you don’t have an extra hole in your wall, air doesn’t escape, which is obviously more whole-home energy efficient — the whole goal of this series.
But where do you put a ventless heat pump dryer?
Well, just about anywhere there’s a bit of space, since you don’t need access to that hole in your wall. There will be a tad more humidity in the room with the ventless version, so don’t plan on enclosing it entirely or else it’s mold city.
Don’t ventless dryers take longer to dry my clothes?
They sure do, and that’s good news for your clothes. Using lower temps, a 50 minute load in a vented dryer may take 90 minutes with a ventless heat pump clothes dryer.
But seeing as most fabric damage happens during over-drying, your clothes should last much longer, which means you’ll have to buy far less new clothing, which, again, reduces emissions from production and the further obliteration of natural resources. Huzzah!
*price at time of publication
There are two additional types of ventless dryers to consider:
Condensing dryer: These use a resistive heating element to heat up the room air for moisture removal. Then the hot, damp air passes by cooler air taken from the room, or coils with cold water in them. As the hot air cools down, liquid water condenses out of the air and into either a water tank or down a drain.
Hybrid dryers: These are heat pump dryers with a resistance heat backup. Hybrid dryers use more energy when using the resistance backup, and we’re trying to use less energy, so.
Big Questions To Ask
What size dryer should I get?
Since dryers need space inside for the warm air to circulate and the clothes to tumble freely, a common recommendation is to size your dryer with about twice the capacity of your washing machine.
But not everybody’s got that kind of space.
One option: consider a smaller capacity dryer and hang-drying some clothes, which also helps clothes last longer. We have been doing this for a gazillion years, it works.
There’s two main dryer outside sizes: compact (around 24” wide) and full-size (around 27” wide).
Most condenser dryers are “compact”, and have a 3.5 to 4 cubic foot drum. There are some full-size heat pump dryers with a 7.4 cubic foot drum that are comparable to regular vented dryers.
Check the height, width, and depth of the space you plan to put the dryer, along with any doorways, hallways, and stairs to get there. Also consider whether you’d want to stack a washer and dryer, or have them side-by-side.
If you’ve never considered stacking your washer and dryer, go ahead and have three children under three, which naturally turns into three children under five, and three children under eight…you get the point, and so will the disks in your lower back, as they sequentially eject from your spine after doing laundry seventeen times a week for ten years.
What kind of electrical work do I need to do?
There are both 120V and 240V ventless dryers available. If you already have a 240V electrical socket from a previous dryer, you might want to take a picture of it so you can get a matching plug to fit your socket type.
How does one maintain a ventless dryer?
As with any dryer, you should clean the lint trap before every load (you already do this…right? I totally do. Totally). Ventless dryers might also have additional filters that need to be cleaned.
And if you have a ventless dryer with no drainage, you’ll need to empty the water from the water tank so it doesn’t fill up.
How does IRA help?
The downside of ventless dryers is that they’re more expensive upfront, usually costing between $1,000-$2,000. A standard vented dryer is closer to $400-$700.
But with new rebates becoming available with the Inflation Reduction Act, you may qualify for up to an $840 rebate on a new heat pump dryer if you’re switching away from a gas-powered machine. Check out Rewiring America’s IRA calculator to see how much you can save.
Depending on how often you use your dryer (see: Toddlers and Cheez-its), choosing a heat pump clothes dryer can save you up to $75 a year on your utility bill. Some states and utilities offer rebates ranging from $50 to $300 for an ENERGY STAR or heat pump dryer as well.
ENERGY STAR’s rebate finder tool has more info — we also recommend asking your favorite retailer if they know of other incentives available.
For more home electrification support, check out our other guides:
BONUS: Listen to our conversation with home electrification wiz John Semmelhack for a comprehensive overview of the whole process (or watch the episode on YouTube!)
Got questions? Shoot us an email at [email protected].