How to spend less on your clothes dryer

Nothing in a home uses more power than a clothes dryer when it’s running. Most dryers use over 3000 watts when operating; some use over 5000 watts. (For comparison, an energy-efficient CFL or LED light uses about 13 watts.) A load a day will add $100 to your power bill over a year. But there are plenty of ways to reduce that:

  • Clean the lint screen after every load (scrub it every now and then if you use dryer sheets; they leave a film on the screen) and use your vacuum cleaner to clean underneath the screen periodically, to keep air moving easily through the dryer
  • Periodically clean the vent pipe that leads from the back of your dryer to the outdoors, and inspect the outlet for lint or other obstructions
  • Don’t overdry clothes: if your dryer has an automatic moisture sensor, use it. And use a cool down cycle to allow residual heat to finish drying clothes; some dryers do that automatically on certain cycles (IE permanent press)
  • Do loads consecutively to take advantage of remaining heat from an earlier load
  • Dry full – but not overfull – loads
  • Use dryer balls (or even tennis balls) to allow air to move more freely between clothes as they tumble, allowing them to dry faster
  • Dry lighter materials separately from heavier materials; they’ll be dry much sooner that way
  • Don’t add wet clothes to loads that are already partially dried
  • Remove clothes from the dryer while they are still slightly damp to save energy and reduce the need for ironing

And for 100% savings, use a drying rack or a clothesline! (A bonus: clothes tend to last longer that way too!)

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Take advantage of cool weather to burn out those last incandescent light bulbs

If you still have some incandescent light bulbs hanging around and are unsure what to do with them, here’s a suggestion: use them only during the heating season.

In these days of efficient bulbs, that sounds counterintuitive, but here’s the story. Of all the energy used by incandescent light bulbs, only about 10% actually produces light; the rest is lost as heat. In warmer months of the year, that heat is unneeded and therefore wasted. And in hot months, it’s even worse: that waste heat from light bulbs makes air conditioners work much harder.

But during cooler months, when heating systems are operating, the waste heat from incandescent light bulbs is actually useful: it allows heaters to run less.

So if you have some leftover old incandescent light bulbs, consider installing them just during the cool months, when their waste heat is not wasted.

An important clarification: there’s no question that efficient light bulbs are the way to go – compact fluorescents or, even better, LEDs. This is only a strategy to work through any remaining incandescent bulbs. If you happen to be in New Brunswick, take advantage of this great promotion on efficient light bulbs.

(Quick insider note: my Mom has some old long-life incandescent light bulbs that, true to their name, refuse to burn out. So installing her ‘winter bulbs’ has been part of our Thanksgiving routine for several years now, and removing them is part of the Easter routine…)