A major component of home maintenance costs is keeping your appliances running their best and replacing them when their useful life ends. Knowing what to expect in terms of lifespan, features, and cost can simplify planning and budgeting. Today we’ll look at the costs and considerations of replacing a household workhorse, the dryer.
When is it time?
Deciding when to replace your existing dryer should be based on whether it’s operating efficiently. Dryers generally last between 15 and 20 years, and running a dryer should cost well below $1 per hour. Estimates for electric models run between 25 and 70 cents, while economical gas models cost around 12 cents per hour to run.
Tips for improving efficiency
The way you use your dryer can impact what you pay to run it. To cut the costs of running a dryer for an hour, group similar fabric types together when drying. Instead of mixing heavy-duty jeans with T-shirts and socks, dry the lighter fabrics in a separate load for a faster load. Don’t put dripping wet clothes into the dryer, as it will take longer than an hour for the dryer to work. Take advantage of the dryer’s retained heat by drying a second load after the first. Double-check the lint trap before drying, and remove any lint to help the dryer operate at peak efficiency.
You can calculate your cost for using the dryer using these steps:
- Multiply the dryer’s wattage by the length of the load in hours and divide by 1000. This will give you the total number of kilowatt-hours (kWh) used.
- Then, multiply the kilowatt hours by your cost per kWh (that can be found on your electric bill). This is your cost per load.
- To calculate your cost per month, multiply your cost per load by the number of loads that you typically do in a month.
Maintenance makes the difference
The level (or lack) of maintenance your dryer receives has a huge impact on the cost of operation. Maintenance for these appliances is generally quite simple and inexpensive.
Be sure to clean the vent after each load, and clean the outside vent and hose a couple of times a year. Clogged exterior vents are one of the leading causes of house fires in the U.S. and a clogged vent increases the amount of time it takes for your machine to dry a load of clothes.
Experts recommend using rigid metal ducts for dryers rather than the flexible foil or plastic kind, which trap lint more easily. Some dryers include sensors to detect when a duct is clogged. These are a great backup, but can’t and shouldn’t be relied on in place of basic maintenance.
When the inevitable time comes to replace your trusty dryer, here are some considerations that will help ensure that you’re delighted with your purchase.
Measure the available space and buy accordingly.
It’s most cost effective to use existing connections, so replace gas with gas, electric with electric. Keep in mind that electric dryers generally require a dedicated 240-volt electrical outlet. Gas dryers typically use a 120-volt outlet, as well as a gas hookup.
Before you buy a large capacity dryer, make sure your family needs that much. Big dryers cost more, generally use more energy, and may not dry clothes as quickly if your loads are of average size. A 2 cubic-foot dryer holds 8 full size towels, while 5.1 cubic feet will hold 21.
Know your options
Dryers come with many convenient options, so get to know what’s available before you buy. Here are some popular features that you may want to consider.
- Accurate moisture sensor
- Drying rack
- Auto-dry cycles (based on moisture, not time)
- Extended tumble
- Steam setting
- End of cycle signal
A very basic dryer can be purchased for around $500, and prices range upwards to $2000. The performance of gas and electric dryers is very similar, but electric dryers tend to cost more to run than gas. For that reason, expect to pay a bit more for a gas dryer. Installation is relatively uncomplicated, and can usually be included in the purchase price. This will also take care of removal and disposal of the old unit.
When you have been careful about maintaining your dryer, you’re in a position to judge how close it is to needing replacement. This allows you to be strategic about when you shop for the new one. The best time to shop for a new dryer is in September or October. This is when the new models are introduced, so the retailers are looking to clear out existing inventory. A lot of good buys can also be found in the weeks leading up to Black Friday.