Your Clothes Dryer is a Big Energy User -
Use it Wisely and Save Money

By Dan Davenport

Save money and energy when drying clothes.

Energy saving begins with informed consumers. Always look for ENERGY STAR rated appliances when buying a new clothes dryer, and use EnergyGuide labels to select the most energy efficient model. The ENERGY STAR label says that the item meets stringent U.S. government standards for energy efficiency, and the EnergyGuide label will give you an estimate of an appliance's total annual energy consumption. Compare annual energy costs on appliances you are considering and buy wisely - you will save money and it is good for our planet.

Ready to move your clothes from the washer to drying? Give each piece a good shake before putting it in the dryer or hanging it on a line. This will shake out some wrinkles (less energy used for ironing, both yours and the kind you pay for), but more important, it opens the fibers packed together in the spin cycle. Then air passes through the fabric quickly and easily and dries your clothes faster -- which saves you money.

You may want to consider using clotheslines or drying racks to air-dry. This not only saves a great deal of energy, but also many fabric manufacturers recommend air-drying for longest fabric life (to save you more money). Still give the clothes a quick shake before hanging to loosen the fibers and shake out some wrinkles.

When you do use the dryer, use the moisture sensor feature. It will turn off the dryer as soon as the clothes are dry. The "cool-down" cycle in your clothes dryer works with the moisture sensor to finish drying your clothes with residual heat and save you energy and money. This will also keep wrinkles from forming in the hot clothes if you are not able to unload the dryer right away when it stops. And by not over-drying the clothes, they will last longer.

Clean the lint filter in your dryer after EVERY load to maximize air circulation and drying efficiency and reduce the fire hazard from excessive lint buildup inside the dryer.

When you dry your clothes, dry the lighter items separately from heavier towels, coats, and jackets. The lighter items will dry faster and use less power, so you only need the longer drying time for a few heavier items -- which, with the smaller load, will dry faster. And the shorter drying times will save you money and cause less wear on the fabrics.

Every month, inspect your dryer vent to make sure it is clear all the way to the outside. This will save power and eliminates a potential fire hazard. Use metal dryer venting hoses. The less expensive plastic version will dry out and crack, filling the area with warm air and lint. The much safer metal style avoids these problems.

The important thing is always think about energy use and dry wisely. You will save a great deal of power, lower your energy bills, and reduce the resources needed to create that power. Even if you create the power with your own wind and solar generators, if you use less energy drying clothes, you will have more for other things.

Dan Davenport has wants the world to be a greener place - intelligently.

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