From Efficiency to Features: What to Look for in a New Dryer

Everything you need to know about clothes dryers

Clothes dryers are a major investment, and if yours needs replacement, it's important that you do your homework so you find the best dryer for your family's needs at the right price. When you're shopping for dryers, it's important to consider not only the appliance's operational features, but also how efficiently it uses energy. Clothing dryers have an average lifespan of 8 to 14 years, so you need to look closely at operational costs as well as the price tag to make sure you're optimizing your investment.

Major Types of Clothes Dryers

The major types of clothes dryers on the market include:

  • Tumble dryers. The defining feature of a tumble dryer is that it removes wrinkles and creases from clothing while making fabrics soft and fluffy. Tumble dryers are versatile and ideal for drying delicate fabrics.
  • Front-load dryers. A front-load dryer has a loading door on the front of the machine; these are available in both regular and high-efficiency models.
  • Top-load dryers. A top-load dryer is loaded from a door on the top of the machine; like front-load clothes dryers, they are also available in standard and energy-efficient models. In both cases, energy-efficient models tend to offer a larger load capacity.

Dryers are also classified according to the energy source they use. Electric dryers are the most common, but gas dryers are also available and can make an energy-efficient alternative if you have natural gas lines in your home.

Shopping Tips for Dryers

One easy way to determine the energy efficiency of a given clothes dryer is to look for the Energy Star symbol. The Energy Star program gives consumers an easy way to identify products which offer money-saving energy efficiency that also helps the environment.

Today's clothes dryers also offer convenient features, which can be worth the extra investment. For example, moisture sensors help you extend the life of your clothing by identifying when loads are dry, stopping the machine and preventing excess drying, which can damage fabrics. Noise reduction features and wrinkle-busting steam cycles are also attractive options, but will cost extra.

You should also consider dryer repair costs -- major brands are generally easier to service, since technicians are intimately familiar with them and replacement parts are relatively inexpensive and widely available. Major manufacturers also tend to offer better warranty protections and more accessible customer service.

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