As spring rolls around, we finally have more options for drying our clothes. But, with British weather to contend with, there may still be days when we have to dry the laundry inside. That raises a conundrum for those trying to keep an eye on their energy bills: to use the dryer or not?
How much does a tumble dryer cost to run?
For each cycle, a tumble dryer uses about three kilowatt-hours. On average, that means it costs just over a pound per load.
On average, British households pay £86.84 a year to keep their dryers tumbling, according to data from Uswitch.
If your machine is more than 10 years old then the chances are it will be making your energy bills unnecessarily high. Nowadays, many tumble dryers will have an eco setting, which will likely take longer, but which uses less energy than a standard cycle.
Modern dryers will have built-in sensors that prevent clothes from over-drying, and they operate in such a way that clothes dry more quickly and evenly.
How can I dry my clothes more cheaply?
The washing line and the drying rack are the two tried-and-true methods for drying your clothes at no cost to your pocket or the planet. But as we know, it isn’t always possible to air-dry clothes like this, and in some cases you risk contributing to damp inside your home if you dry them indoors.
To give clothes a helping hand without using a tumble dryer, there are several options.
One is to buy a dehumidifier, an appliance which draws moisture out of the air. These start at around £40 or £50, and costs about 13p to run long enough to dry a load of washing. Other than drying au naturel, it is the cheapest option energy-wise.
You could also consider purchasing a heated airer. These cost about 20p per use to dry a load. Drying pods, which blow hot air on your clothes within an enclosed tent-like structure, can speed up the process further while costing about 34p per load to use.
Both heated airers and pods start at about £40 to buy, but can go up to as much as £200 for higher-end models.
But before you even get the clothes out of the washing machine, don’t forget you can use one of its features to help hurry along the drying process.
“If your clothes are still very wet when you take them out of the washing machine, you could make use of the spin cycle setting,” suggests Ben Gallizzi, an energy expert at Uswitch.
“Using the spin cycle will remove excess water, meaning your clothes will dry faster in the tumble dryer or on an airer.”