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Does it save money to shorten the dry time in a Dryer?

Updated on July 12, 2011

Figure out how much Electricity your dryer uses

Electrical appliances are all rated for the amount of electricity they use. The federal trade commission requires that the appliance be labeled with an energyguide label that emphasizes annual cost of operation.  US dryers average of about 4000 watts with the element running. Some are higher and some lower.

If your dryer is running the way it was intended to run, then it provides a certain level of efficiency.  Unfortunately most of our dryers are not running at 100% of the designed efficiency. Time to take a good look at what is happening with your dryer.

Energy Labels

This is the energy star label, it indicates a high efficiency appliance.
This is the energy star label, it indicates a high efficiency appliance.
The is the EnergyGuide which emphasizes the annual cost of operating an appliance.
The is the EnergyGuide which emphasizes the annual cost of operating an appliance.

Why is my dryer taking so long to dry?

It is supposed to work by circulating heated air through the tumbling clothes and the air then carries evaporated water out of the dryer and vents it to the outside.   The dryer exhaust is laden with moisture and the clothes become dryer and dryer.   The average load of laundry takes about 40 minutes to dry.   This all depends in part on the size of the load, water retention of the fabrics, type of washer, water content at the end of the cycle, choice of cycles, for front loaders the speed of the spin cycle, but generally a regular sized load with high heat takes about 40 minutes.  Towels obviously will take longer to dry than pillow cases or lingerie due to the amount of moisture the different fabrics retain.

Generally there are two categories that reduce drying time:   

Amount of water in the clothes at the end of the wash cycle.

Dryer efficiency.

Long Drying Time: Too much Water in Clothes

Please click on the highlighted words to see additional information relating to the topic.

There are a couple of reasons that your laundry may have too much water in it. 

Washer settings.  If you are washing all your laundry on permanent press or gentle cycle settings, the end of cycle spin is slower and sometimes shorter which leaves more water in the clothes.   This will increase the drying time significantly.  On sturdier wash like towels and jeans, be sure to use the regular or heavy duty cycles on the washing machine.  This action all by itself is said to reduce the drying time by as much as 1/3.   If clothes come out of the washer and they seem to be very wet or much more wet than normal, then it is time to look at the washer.  Something is wrong.   Better to repair the washer than to double the drying time.

The loads are too large.   The washer cannot spin the huge load out as well.   Also, the huge load, called an overload, takes longer in the dryer because the air flow is reduced.   Longer dry times result.

Long Drying Time: Air Flow Problem

Say it cost about $100 a year to run your dryer (gas or electric) when it is new.   Then over time the dryer loses 20% of its design efficiency.   Now the dryer costs about $120 a year to operate and the drying time is increased by 8 minutes for the same load.  This increase in drying time may be due to AIR FLOW.

The air in a dryer must flow through the clothes in the dryer and carry the moisture with it to the outside. This process can be highly efficient.   The efficiency of the air flow can be easily affected by lint and residue build up.

With the dryer running, go outside and look at the exhaust which ideally should be located through the wall of the laundry room.  The air flow coming out of the exhaust should be heavy and easy to detect,  It should be strong enough to open the little plastic door located on the exhaust and hold it in the open position continuously. 

This vent to the outside is quite often the source of an airflow problem, check it to see if it is easily opens and closes completely when the dryer is off.  Sometimes you will find a grill or screen on this exhaust designed to keep small animals out of the dryer vent.  Unfortunately, a dryer can produce large volumes of lint that can get caught in the screen and reduce the airflow and interfere with the operation of the self closing door.   Clean this area thoroughly and test again for airflow.   This may solve the problem.

If the exhaust vent is cleaned out and the airflow is weak, then you have another problem.  Next check behind the dryer for a kinked or crushed connecting vent.  If the vent is damaged, replace it with a vent hose rated for dryers.    If it is kinked or crushed, straighten it out and reconnect it to the dryer.   When the vent hose is reduced by 50% the dryer will have a significant reduction in efficiency probably more than 50%.   With the vent hose off, inspect the through the wall vent pipe, is it clear or does it have a bird nest or a sock in it.  Make sure the vent pipe is clear.   If the vent is clear, the outside is cleaned and the vent hose properly installed without turns and twists the dryer air flow should be solid and strong.   The drying time should return to normal.

Do you use fabric softener, or dryer sheets to remove static from the dryer and put softener in the fabrics?   If so, clean the lint filter (screen) with a small brush and warm water.   The build up on the filter could reduce the air flow and cause some longer drying times.  Be sure to soak the filter before scrubbing it and then wait for it to dry before using it again.

Look inside the dryer to see if one of the dryer sheets has stuck to to place where the air flows out of the dryer, I have seen this happen a couple of times.

Spin Dry

There are several products on the market now that will spin dry your clothes, a regular load of clothes has about a quart of water left in it.  This machine costs around $150 and extracts the water out of the clothes.   This can be used with  or without a regular dryer, the clothes come out damp but far dryer than the washing machine.   The drying time in a regular dryer is reduced by 2/3.  Most normal loads will dry in about 15 minutes.   I have not tested these spin dry machines but they look promising and the reviews are pretty good.


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    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 

      8 years ago from TEXAS

      BJ - maybe you should count your blessings if the teenagers don't use your washer and dryer. When my teenage great grandkids come to visit and use mine - they hopelessly overload them, mix whites with darks and I'd be happy to have done them for them! haha. But if they're your own kids and you can train them right, that would be another matter, of course.

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 

      8 years ago from TEXAS

      Well (blush) I must confess that the dryer door seal came off years ago and I've neglected to replace it. I can see your eyes rolling! I realize it cuts down on the dryer's efficiency by letting in the outside air which obviously has to be heated and cools the air inside. The machine may be too old to get a replacement. I should try anyway, right? So if I know what I need to do, why don't I just DO it? OK - you've not promised to be a psychologist, just an appliance expert. Maybe some of the other readers will comfort me - Hahaha!

      You HAVE accomplished one thing: stirred my mind to think about it, especially since I've been in a huge campaign to conserve on electric & other utility useage, even to wearing more clothes to save on heat in cold weather and fewer to save on A/C in hot weather. The least I could do would be to beat the bushes for a dryer door seal.

      OK, OK - don't nag. I get the message! (reminds me of the letters I once wrote to God and answered them myself!)

      In my defense, though - I never overload the dryer, and I religiously clean the filter between EVERY load. Also I use the the "free & clear" additive-free All detergent & avoid those silly softening sheets. My stuff comes out very soft & smooth. I take it out immediately & fold or hang it - no wrinkles and smell like fresh air, not perfume. And I don't wash fluffy rugs in my washer & dryer, but take them to a laundromat, which cut down on wear and tear of my appliances. Do I get any little stars for those extra care procedures? I could use a star or two!

    • BJBenson profile image


      8 years ago from USA

      Do you know how to get teenager to wash and dry clothes?

      Great Hub!


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