This may whet your appetite for a new dryer
HOUSTON — Measures that have boosted energy efficiency in many appliances have left clothes dryers in the dust, an environmental group reported Thursday.
Electric clothes dryers can soak up as much juice as an energy efficient refrigerator, clothes washer and dishwasher combined, the National Resource Defense Council said in a report titled “A Call to Action for More Efficient Clothes Dryers.”
Most of the nation’s 89 million residential dryers still use old technology that “bakes water out of clothing with brute force,” the council said in a news release, while other home appliances have improved energy efficiency by as much as 50 percent.
The group lent support to its premise with loads of dry but persuasive statistics:
- Americans spend $9 billion a year drying clothes, and we could reduce that by $4 billion if we adopted existing technology already in use overseas.
- Dryers’ typical partners in the garage or utility closet — washing machines — use about 75 percent less energy and 40 percent less water than they did in 1981, partly because utilities have offered incentives for consumers who upgrade to newer models.
- Homes with electric dryers pay at least $1,500 over the dryer’s lifetime for the electricity to power it.
“It’s time to bring U.S. clothes dryers into the modern era and achieve some of the massive efficiency gains all the other major home appliances have seen,” said Noah Horowitz, director of the council’s Center for Energy Efficiency Standards, in a statement with the report.
But if you’re keeping a close line on your finances or have other hang-ups about tumbling into a big purchase, the council has some suggestions for using your existing dryer more efficiently.
Setting a lower temperature, for example, lengthens the drying process but saves lots of energy.
And while the idea of taking clothes out before they’re completely dry might dampen your enthusiasm for energy efficiency, it reduces wrinkles and makes clothes last longer, according to the report.
Also on FuelFix:
14 ways to slim your power bill this summer
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Angle blinds up: TXU Energy says that angling horizontal blinds so sunlight streams up can reduce the heat coming in and provide free natural light. When closed and lowered, highly reflective blinds can reduce heat gain by around 45 percent.
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Insulate lights: Canned or recessed lights can be a big source of air leaks. Selecting “IC” (insulation contact) models or installing approved covers over non-IC models can stop that.
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Use a fan: You can raise your thermostat setting by up to 4 degrees and not feel a difference if you also run a ceiling fan. Fans only make you feel cooler, though, so turn them off when you’re not in the room.
rlhyde / Flickr
Lower humidity: It takes longer to cool a humid home. The ideal humidity level is less than 60 percent in the summer.
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Moderate the thermostat: Lowering your thermostat setting does not cool your home more quickly. Many factors affect how quickly an indoor space cools. Thermostat set points are not among them.
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Check your water heater: Water heaters are factory set at 140 degrees. Lowering that to 120 degrees provides comfortably hot water and less energy consumption.
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Use a programmable thermostat: Most Americans with programmable thermostats don’t program them. New Energy Star® ratings for programmable thermostats may consider ease of use and online access.
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Seal your windows: If you want to save money this summer, you should start by looking for the places where you are losing money. Gaps between windows and doors are some of the most likely spots for energy loss.
Michael Paulsen / Houston Chronicle
Get the right A/C unit: Air conditioners are designed for specific sizes, and you can waste energy by having one too big or too small. You should make sure your unit is right for your home.
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Switch your light bulbs: You can save money by switching out old incandescent light bulbs for compact fluorescent bulbs. The modern light bulbs, which do have a different glow, can save you money on your electric bill.
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Change your air filter: A dirty air filter can make your air conditioner be less efficient, and it can ultimately cost you money on your electric bill.
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Turn off lights: Many people forget to turn off lights and fans after leaving a room. By turning them off, you can save yourself some money on that electric bill.
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Buy energy-efficient appliances: They may cost more at the store, but energy-efficient appliances can save you money on your electric bill.
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Unplug unused appliances: You can save money by unplugging phone chargers or other kitchen appliances when they aren't in use.