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Let Your Clothes Dryer Help Heat Your House

Updated on September 21, 2010
The Lint Trap: A Vacuum Cleaner Bag
The Lint Trap: A Vacuum Cleaner Bag

It has been a cold winter here in East Cackalacky. Everyone is wondering how to keep his house tolerably warm without bankrupting himself on utilities. The insulation contractors are working overtime, thermostats are set lower, people are putting on sweaters, space heaters are being kept in the rooms most used.

Those all are ways that can help trim your heating cost. You get a fringe benefit from your ability to brag about how virtuous you are in going green to save energy and the planet, but most people really just want to save some money and keep their houses comfortable, and who can blame them?

If you have a clothes dryer, you have an intermittent source of heat that is probably being wasted now. The typical setup of one exhausts the hot air coming from the machine through a vent in a wall to the outside. If you have an electric dryer, it would be good to keep that warmth in the house, allowing your furnace to run a bit less (if your dryer is fired by gas, then let that exhaust continue to vent outdoors so its combustion gases will stay out of the house, and thanks to my friend Kevin for that important piece of information). That hot air is furthermore laden with the moisture it is pulling from your washed clothes, and in the dry winter air it would be nice to keep that in the house as well. A little humidity in the wintertime can go a long way to making you feel more comfortable.

Since most dryers are exhausted through flexible hoses or thin steel pipe, there is an easy way to accomplish both. Just let that dryer air exhaust into the house instead of outdoors.

You have two details to take care of when you do that. First, lint coming off the clothes has to be trapped somehow so it will neither make your house dusty nor present a fire hazard, and, second, the warm air has to be taken out of the laundry room and spread around. Where your dryer is located, and how you heat your house, will determine how you do those things, but it is rare for it to be a difficult problem.

In my house, the dryer is in a small utilities room off the kitchen, as are the forced air furnace and air handler. The dryer's ventilation is through a flexible metallic hose reinforced with wire to keep it open.

I went to a store and got a package of three vacuum cleaner filter bags for less than a dollar. I cut the dryer's exhaust hose in a convenient place with a knife, clipping the wire with a wire cutter, and cut open one of the filter bags at one end. Slipping it over the dryer end of the cut hose and securing it there with a rubber band provided all the lint catching capability anyone could need. I covered the other cut end of the hose, the one leading to the outside vent, with some plastic, also kept on with a rubber band, just to keep cold air from getting into the room. Had I a rigid steel vent pipe instead of that flexible hose, I would merely have separated two sections of it at a joint and proceeded exactly the same from that point.

Whenever I run the dryer, I turn the forced air heating system's circulator fan to continuous. That draws out the warm, moist air, distributing it throughout the house through the heating registers. If you lack that arrangement, then just put a fan in the laundry room to blow the hot air out into the rest of the house.

I feel a difference. The furnace runs less, and the house feels warmer. When the filter bag is so full of lint it puts out noticeably less air through itself when the dryer runs, I just throw it and its contents away and put on one of the spares. Come spring and warm weather, I will merely remove the bag and the plastic, put the two ends of the hose back together, and wrap the cut joint with duct tape.

This is such a quick and simple way to save energy and money in the wintertime while making your house a little cozier that I kick myself for not having done it long ago. Better late than never, though. I sure will not turn down the savings or the comfort now.


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    • tipstoretireearly profile image

      tipstoretireearly 5 years ago from New York

      Interesting idea! I like the idea of recovering the heat energy, but probably won't try it since I wouldn't like the increase in humidity. But great way to think outside the box since it might work for some homes.

    • Ben Zoltak profile image

      Ben Zoltak 5 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      My old landlord just vented our previous dryer right up to the attic! There was lint and dust everywhere! Great solution with the vacuum bags, bravo!

      I now own my home, I may try this, although our basement is pretty moist so it may be a short lived experiment.



    • Attikos profile image

      Attikos 5 years ago from East Cackalacky

      In addition to saving money, it does indeed make the house feel noticeably better, milawalker. The heat and humidity the dryer puts out are good to capture on a cold, dry winter day. Now spring has arrived in my area, with its warmer days and higher moisture levels, I have rerouted the dryer's vent to its outdoor exhaust port, but come next fall the rigging shown in the photograph will be back in place.

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      milawalker 5 years ago

      This is very very useful during cold days.

      custom suits dallas(

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      chris 6 years ago

      i live in canada , where it gets pretty nippy in the cold months , and the dryer is an excellent source of heat , especially if you have children , your dryer is used more than once a week ... so

    • Attikos profile image

      Attikos 6 years ago from East Cackalacky

      LOL ... Pat C, I tried that once. The pantyhose seemed vaguely disreputable when inflated, so I looked for an alternative. Both work, though I think the vacuum filter bag catches everything where the Nylon mesh lets fine particles through.

    • profile image

      pat c 6 years ago

      I have been doing this for many years but used pantyhose over the flex tube. It really makes a difference.

    • Nicolas Simons profile image

      Nicolas Simons 6 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you, That's a very creative idea. Hope many will take advantage of your tips.

    • rick combe profile image

      rick combe 6 years ago from USA

      This is a great idea. The idea to run my dryer exhaust inside during the winter ran through my head a few times, but I had never seen it done and thought there might a reason for that, but if you have used it successfully then I will definitely use mine this winter. Heat isn't cheap, and a dryer puts off a lot. Thanks!

    • Attikos profile image

      Attikos 7 years ago from East Cackalacky

      It's worked well for me so far. The additional moisture is good in the dry winter air, and no mold. Were I to live in Fort Lauderdale or New Orleans, it might be a different story, but I'm in East Cackalacky, far enough north the cold months aren't so humid it's a problem.

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      Maurice Hilarius 7 years ago

      Dumping this much moisture into your home may be a recipe for poor health and damage to your house.

      Mold is not a good thing!

    • profile image

      Janet 7 years ago

      Another good tip. Thank so much for sharing!

    • Attikos profile image

      Attikos 7 years ago from East Cackalacky

      Thank you for commenting. It's always a pleasure to find that one of these articles has been of benefit to a reader.

    • profile image

      Clothes Dryer Vent 7 years ago

      I like it, this is wonderful information. Thanks for such great article.