Clothes dryers

Clothes dryers use a lot of electricity - an average load costs around a dollar to dry. By using your dryer sensibly, and choosing to dry clothes outside on the clothesline, you could save $100 or more a year.

Types of clothes dryers

Vented dryers

Vented dryers heat air and blow it through tumbling clothes. Warm, damp air is then blown out of the dryer - ideally outside your house through a duct.

Condensing dryers

Condensing dryers (also called condenser dryers) use a heat exchanger to remove moisture from warm air that has passed through your damp clothes. The water is stored in a tank, or drained away, and the heat (but no moisture) is dumped into the room where your dryer is.

Heat pump dryers

Heat pump dryers work in a closed loop - air is heated and blown through damp clothes, air is cooled and water drained off, then air is reheated again. A small built-in heat pump handles the heating and cooling. No moisture is released into the room air.

Condensing and heat pump dryers are generally more expensive to buy than basic vented dryers, and are not always cheaper to run.

Washer-dryers

A washer-dryer is a combination of a washing machine and clothes dryer in a single appliance. They include an integrated condenser dryer. No moisture is released into the room air. The heat exchanger uses water for cooling, which means water is used for both washing and drying. Washer-dryers can be good for compact spaces without room for two appliances. Their drying cycle can take a long time.

Choosing a clothes dryer

  • Choose the right size dryer - to minimise running costs and get the best results for your clothes.
  • Look for a model with an auto-sensing feature - if you use your dryer regularly, to prevent over-drying. This saves electricity and protects your clothes.
  • Simple timer models - are great if you only use your dryer occasionally. They tend to be cheaper and should still do the job.
  • Vented dryers are often the cheapest option over their lifecycle - with low purchase price and moderate running costs - unless you want to dry more than one load a day on average. Avoid models that cannot be ducted to the outside – the moisture released from your clothes would all go into your house, making it damp.
  • Condensing and heat pump models - are best if you don't have the option of venting warm damp air outside. That’s because they don’t release moisture into the air.
  • Washer-dryers - are best for compact spaces without room for two appliances.
  • Wall mountable or stackable dryers - some vented dryers can be wall mounted to save space. Stackable dryers are designed to be stacked on top of a front-loading washing machine of the same brand.

Clothes dryer energy rating labels

All dryers have energy rating labels so you can see how efficient they are and roughly how much electricity they use in a year. If you are comparing similar sizes and types of dryers, the model with the most stars will be the cheapest to run.

 Energy rating labels

Clothes dryer running costs – Consumer NZ website

Smart use of clothes dryers

  • Try to dry clothes outside - the fresh air helps to kill bacteria and dust mites, and the sunlight even fades stains.
  • Avoid drying clothes inside on racks - moisture will be released into the house. A covered outside area is better.
  • Dryers should be vented to the outside - so moisture doesn't make your house damp.
  • Avoid overloading and over-drying.
  • Dry clothes in loads of similar weight items - jeans need a lot longer than lightweight items.
  • Thoroughly spin dry clothes in your washing machine first - it takes a lot less electricity to spin water out than to heat it out.
  • Clean the lint filter on your dryer - after each load.