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Gas vs Electric Dryers: Which is More Efficient?

Doing laundryThe average American household does about 300 loads of laundry each year. All of these clothes must be dried, but the energy costs can really pile up. Air drying is free, but it's not always practical. For convenience, you often have to use a clothes dryer. 

Electric and natural gas dryers are available. Essentially, all dryers work the same way; they tumble dry clothes with heated air to remove moisture. The major difference is that electric dryers use heating coils to supply heat, while gas models use a burner. So which is least expensive?

Comparing costs

Gas dryers often cost more to purchase, but they typically cost less to operate. For example, a typical electric dryer uses about 80 kilowatt-hours (kWh) a month. At the current national average rate for electricity of 12 cents per kWh, an electric appliance would cost about $9.60 a month or $120 a year

Gas dryers, on the other hand, typically use about 4 kWh of electricity a month and 3.2 hundred cubic feet (ccf) of natural gas. At the current national average prices for electric and natural gas ($1.35 per ccf), a gas dryer would cost about $4.90 a month or $59 a year

Your costs can vary, depending on local utility rates, but natural gas dryers typically cost less to operate. The California Public Utilities Commission estimates that using a natural gas dryer can reduce your dryer energy costs by up to 50 percent. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says that "if you have the option, consider using a gas dryer to save money and reduce your environmental impact."

Gas dryers do come with extra installation costs to consider. An extra gas pipeline and hookup installed by a qualified professional may be necessary. Gas convenience outlets provide a simple and lower cost option for 'plugging into' natural gas. 

Most dryers terminate the drying cycle based on a set amount of time. Some dryer models today offer automatic termination by sensing the actual moisture remaining in the clothes or a change in exhaust temperature, which prevents wasteful over-drying that can also damage textiles.

Whichever type of model you choose, make sure it's ENERGY STAR® certified. ENERGY STAR clothes dryers use about 20 percent less energy than standard models.

Pensacola Energy offers a $200 rebate to homeowners who convert from electric clothes drying to natural gas.  To learn more about rebates and how to make the switch call 436-5050 or visit pensacolaenergy.com.

Image source: iStock

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