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