Since your dryer can affect your clothes' appearance and life span, the one you buy is important. Before you decide, remember to consider the features available, and think about what’s best for your lifestyle.
Types of Dryers
All dryers use an electric motor to tumble clothes and an electric fan to distribute heated air. The difference is how heat is generated: with natural gas or electricity. The decision to purchase gas versus electric depends on whether you have a gas line in your laundry area. If you want to change your dryer’s fuel source, you’ll need the help of a professional contractor.
Electric: Generally, they’re slightly more expensive than gas dryers to operate and use twice the strength of an ordinary household electric current. Most run on a 240-volt current to heat up coils and require a 240 outlet in your laundry area.
Gas: The initial cost of gas can be slightly higher than that of an electric dryer, but it’s typically less expensive to operate. It usually takes only a year or two to make up the purchase-price difference due to energy savings.
The Basics of Dryers
When you're ready to shop for a new dryer, remember the 3 Cs — Capacity, Controls and Cycles.Capacity
The more you can dry in a single load, the less time and money you’ll spend doing your laundry. Also, clothes tend to wrinkle less in larger drums because there’s more tumbling room. You should look for a model with about twice the capacity of your washer — it will dry more in less time — and it can keep up with the pace of your washer.
As with washers, controls on dryers are more sophisticated and easier to use. Digital displays and one-touch selections can be programmed and preset to meet your drying needs. For a more traditional look, choose dial or push-button controls.
- Sensor Dry: A moisture sensor knows how wet your laundry is and adjusts the drying time accordingly. This not only saves you time and money on energy costs, it can prevent overdrying (which can cause shrinkage) and extend the life of your clothes. And you can set a moisture sensor to your desired level of dryness — whether that's damp or completely dry.
- Eco-Cycle: Dryers with an eco-cycle use significantly less energy than normal cycles by accurately monitoring the dryness of clothes, saving you money on energy bills, and helping your clothes last longer. Some models even have a monitor on the console that displays the energy use and efficiency of different drying cycles. Dryers with an eco-cycle can use up to 35% less dryer energy when paired with a matching washer compared to a conventional top-load pair.
- Steam: Steam is one of the newest dryer innovations that makes doing laundry easier. A steam cycle can refresh an outfit you’ve worn, relaxing wrinkles and removing odors. During this cycle, a small amount of water is sprayed into the dryer drum after several minutes of tumbling with heat. It can also be set to periodically tumble, rearrange and fluff the load to help keep wrinkles from forming. The setting can be adjusted based on the number of garments.
- Delicate: Many dryers have a delicate cycle that uses an ultra-low temperature to safely and gently dry lightweight garments and loosely woven fabrics. Your clothes will last longer and keep their color if dried using the correct temperatures.
- Wrinkle: Wrinkles can set in to clothes that sit in the dryer for too long after a cycle, especially if they’re warm. A wrinkle-prevention option is great if you can't always empty your dryer right away. It continues to tumble clothes without heat to avoid creating set-in wrinkles.
- Sanitization: Bacteria and germs can easily find their way into fabrics. A dryer with a sanitizing cycle can help provide some relief to children and adults with frequent allergies by using high heat or steam to sanitize items that can't be easily washed. A sanitization cycle eliminates up to 99.9% of common household bacteria.
According to ENERGY STAR®, clothes dryers aren't rated in the government program because there's little difference in the energy use between models. If you’d like to reduce energy in other ways, try the moisture sensor cycle in the dryer or a high spin cycle in your washing machine. Both will reduce the amount of drying time needed and ultimately use less energy.