Clothes drying tips to save energy and stay safe
The Minnesota Department of Commerce Home Energy Guide offers some advice to help maintain your clothes dryer, reduce energy use, and keep your home safe:
The energy use of clothes dryers is directly related to the moisture content of the clothes. Thus, the more efficient a washer is at wringing water out of clothes, the less energy needed to dry them. Learn more about High Efficiency (HE) washers.
Clean the dryer lint screen before each load; lint restricts airflow and increases drying time and energy use.
Always vent dryers to the outside. Venting into living space or the attic will lead to high levels of moisture, possibly causing mold and mildew in basements or wet insulation and rotting in attics. Venting a gas dryer into living space is dangerous because of flue gases from the combustion process.
Use only smooth, rigid, metal ducts for the dryer exhaust; connect sections with metal foil tape to prevent dangerous leakage.
Inspect outside dryer exhaust vents monthly to make sure the flapper is operating freely and no lint is blocking the opening. Make sure vents are clear of snow and ice during winter.
Lower the dryer temperature settings to allow for longer “air tumble” times between “heating” times. This limits heat damage to clothes and saves some energy.
Set your dryer to “less dry” and hang clothes to air-dry the final amount.
When possible, air-dry clothes outside to reduce dryer usage.
Why not dry clothes by hanging them in the basement?
Hanging clothes on lines or racks in the basement—especially in the winter when the house is dry—seems like a logical, energy-saving approach. But caution is necessary, and here’s why:
A typical load of laundry may contain several gallons of moisture. As it leaves the clothing, some of it will move to nearby cool locations (like a basement foundation wall or window) where the vapor will condense. Because this surface is usually cooler than the surrounding air, evaporation may be gradual—enough to encourage the growth of mold and mildew or cause damage to window frames, etc.
Condensation or frost on walls or windows is a sign of too much moisture in the air. Make sure you are not trading small energy savings for a potentially damaging situation.
To learn more about the efficiency of clothes washers and dryers (and other appliances), their maintenance and repair, when to replace them, and what to look for in new equipment, download the Home Energy Guide (pdf) from the Commerce website. Or to receive a hard copy, send an email to email@example.com or call the Energy Information Center at 800-657-3710.
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Minnesota Energy Tips is provided twice a month by the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources. Contact the division’s Energy Information Center at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-657-3710 with energy questions.