Trim the cost of drying clothes


In the winter, our house is dry, so we run our humidifier, and it's cold, so we run the furnace. Then we throw wet clothes into the dryer and pump the warm, moist exhaust air outdoors. I smell opportunity here, tinged with the scent of dryer sheets.

According to, with electricity at a dime per kilowatt hour, families that run the dryer five hours a week could save $120 a year by hang-drying clothes. And what smells sweeter than line-dried bedding? (Check your local regulations, however; some clueless communities don't allow clotheslines.)

Other ways to trim your drying bill-

  • Keep the vent and filter clean. Buildup on the filter screen or within the vent traps more moist air within the drying chamber, forcing the dryer to work longer and harder. Lint buildup in the dryer vent is also a fire hazard.

  • If, due to a brain fade such as the one I experienced, your dryer vents to the outside adjacent to your air-conditioning unit, be vigilant about cleaning the fuffa off the A/C coils, to keep that system running efficiently.

  • Use the minimum setting needed to dry your clothes. Tumbling already-dry clothes is wasteful, and could reduce the life of your clothing as well.

  • Just as you can take a roast from the oven before it is done and allow it to finish cooking by its residual heat, stop running the dryer when the clothes are still faintly damp, and allow the residual heat to finish the job.

  • Run full loads, but not over-full, to maximize the dryer efficiency.

  • Run clothes that retain a lot of water, such as jeans, through an extra spin cycle in the washer to reduce drying time.

  • Sort dryer loads into similar fabrics to avoid over/under-drying items.

  • Remember, every penny counts, even the ones that rattle around in my dryer every time I wash jeans.