When it comes to energy efficiency, clothes dryers are an oddity among their fellow household appliances. Other whitegoods such as washing machines and dishwashers are available in a wide range of efficiency levels, ranging from 1 to 5 star ratings, and even 7 stars in the case of air conditioners. However, clothes dryers are a little different because the majority of models are either very efficient (6 stars), or very inefficient (1 or 2 stars). There isn’t much middle ground, so you’ll have a big decision on your hands.
So which option should you take? Many of us are apprehensive about purchasing an energy efficient appliance because they’re usually more expensive up front, with less efficient models conversely being cheaper to purchase. However, the initial cost of an appliance isn’t the only, or maybe even the biggest, expense you’ll have to pay for the sake of owning and running it.
Regularly using a clothes dryer will hit your electricity bill hard, and while you can reduce costs by buying a more efficient appliance, will the savings you make on your bill be enough to justify the extra money you spend up front, or vice versa? We’ve compared the price and running costs of three different dryers, with 1, 2, and 6 star efficiency ratings, to try and answer this question.
We came up with these figures using the base assumption that the average Australian household runs their clothes dryer five times per week. If you run your clothes dryer more or less than five times a week, your annual running costs will differ from the costs in this article. These figures were calculated using an electricity price of $0.29/kWh. Be aware that electricity rates vary across the country, so this will also impact your own personal running costs.
The 1 star model – Fisher & Paykel DE40F56A2 4kg
One of Fisher & Paykel’s most popular clothes dryers, this model is simply designed and comes with two different drying cycles, for delicate and tough pieces of clothing. It also has an automatic wrinkle-reducing function, and can be wall-mounted.
- Purchase price – $389
- Energy consumption – 210kWh
- Energy used each year – 1050kWh
- Annual running cost – $301
- Running costs over 10 years – $3,014
- Total cost of ownership over 10 years – $3,403
The 2 star model – Electrolux EDP2074PDW
This dryer from Electrolux is a condenser dryer, meaning that it prevents the humidity and mugginess that can be created by standard dryers. It comes with a quick cycle for smaller loads, along with a gentle cycle for delicates, and a crease-reducing mode for things like business shirts. It also has a sensor which can detect when your clothes have dried and then stop the cycle, preventing heat-related damage to your clothes.
- Purchase price – $825
- Energy consumption – 315kWh
- Energy used each year – 1575kWh
- Annual running cost – $452
- Running costs over 10 years – $4,520
- Total cost of ownership over 10 years – $5,345
The 6 star model – Samsung DV90H8000HW
Designed for larger households, this Samsung dryer comes with error-monitoring functionality which allows you to troubleshoot the problem from your smartphone. It has 11 different drying cycles, including ones for cottons, delicates, and a quick cycle for smaller loads. It also comes with a child lock, a progress indicator, and a sensor which can detect when your clothes have dried.
- Purchase price – $1,494
- Energy consumption – 190kWh
- Energy used each year – 950kWh
- Annual running cost – $273
- Running costs over 10 years – $2,727
- Total cost of ownership over 10 years – $4,221
How much could you save?
If we look at the various numbers and costs of each model, a few things become clear. You definitely pay a higher price for a more efficient clothes dryer, with the 6 star model costing nearly four times as much as the 1 star model, and nearly twice as much as the 2 star.
But even though it’s considerably more energy efficient than the 1 star model, this particular 6 star clothes dryer will only knock about $300 off your electricity costs over 10 years of ownership. Consider the fact that it costs just over $1,100 more to purchase and it becomes obvious that between the two, the 1-star model works out considerably cheaper in the long run. You spend much less up front, and pay only about $30 extra a year in running costs. It may be cheaper in the long run, but you also need to consider that the more expensive model comes with a greater number of features, and being superior in terms of energy efficiency, it’s much better for the environment.
It’s also interesting to note that the 2 star model is the most expensive of the bunch overall, costing just over $1,100 more than the 6 star model over 10 years. It may be about $700 cheaper than the 6 star model to buy, but you’ll spend nearly $180 more each year in running costs.
So as you can tell, there is no one size fits all approach to clothes dryers, and you really need to judge each and every appliance on its own merits. While this is a very specific comparison, and not every 2 star model will be more expensive than every 1 star model, you can use this to give you a general idea of what to expect when buying a clothes dryer. You should also note that the more efficient a model is, the more environmentally friendly it is, and so if that’s important to you, it might be worth making it the point of difference.