The Elephant in the Laundry Room

August 8, 2018 | By: Ryan Shanahan

When it comes to energy efficiency in home appliances, the clothes dryer is the elephant in the laundry room. On average, residential clothes dryers use about 800 kilowatt hours (kWh) per year. By comparison, a standard clothes washer and a standard refrigerator each use about 600 kWh per year. A standard dishwasher uses the least amount of energy of home appliances at about 200 kWh per year. However, until recently, clothes dryers were also the only major appliance not rated by ENERGY STAR®. Likely, this was due to the fact that the technology built into the machines was relatively unchanged for many years. ENERGY STAR released its first standard clothes dryer in 2015, which incorporated new technology, including moisture-sensing features, heat pump elements, and more.

Today, the ENERGY STAR standard represents a minimum 20% improvement in energy efficiency over the standard clothes dryer with the most efficient large (7.4 cubic feet) clothes dryer using only 556 kWh per year and the most efficient smaller (4.1 cubic feet) clothes dryers using an impressive 149 kWh per year. ENERGY STAR has introduced a Combined Energy Factor (CEF) metric to help buyers compare models that have different total energy consumptions and the size of the clothes dryer. Using this metric, the smaller dryers represent the highest overall efficiency with a CEF of 5.7, while the larger dryers top out at a CEF of 4.3.

Look out for a new Earth Advantage home certification measure for ENERGY STAR clothes dryers in the next iteration of the program, which will be released in 2019. Our experience has shown an appliance upgrade can make the difference between Zero Energy and Platinum certification! Be sure to consider this technology when pursuing your next Zero Energy Ready home.