One of the home’s highest energy-use offenders can get an efficiency makeover, as Energy Star-rated clothes dryers are now available nationwide through major retailers, announced the EPA. Qualified models come from brands such as Whirlpool, Kenmore, and LG, with at least 45 energy-saving gas, electric, and compact options to choose from.

The announcement brings new savings benefits for homeowners and a valuable opportunity for builders to include additional energy saving products. Clothes dryers are one of the most common home appliances, and one of the least efficient; while approximately 80% of U.S. homes have them, little progress has been made in reducing their energy consumption. 

Interest in increased energy efficiency and the resultant utility savings is growing among consumers, and Energy Star-labeled appliances are one of the most recognizable methods of promoting green features. NAHB’s recent study, “What Home Buyers Really Want,” found that Energy Star appliances topped the most wanted list, with 94% of buyers calling them essential or desirable. 

To earn the Energy Star label, dryers must use 20% less energy than conventional models while still meeting performance standards. Qualifying models use moisture sensors to automatically end cycles when clothes are dry, to help reach that goal.

To achieve optimum energy savings, the EPA’s Energy Star clothes dryer product guidance advises consumers to not only use a sensor drying function, but to also run their dryers on low heat settings and pair them with an Energy Star washing machine, which leaves clothes less damp after the final spin cycle.

The biggest savings can be achieved from heat pump dryers, which are estimated to save 20% to 60% more energy when compared to conventional models. These products heat ambient air and then recirculate it to maintain warm temperatures with lower energy usage. They also minimize heat loss by passing humid air through a condenser in the dryer drum to remove moisture rather than relying on external venting.

This can provide additional savings during new construction since an exterior vent does not need to be installed, helping make the unit cost more comparable to traditional models. 

The EPA estimates that if all residential clothes dryers in the nation were Energy Star-certified, Americans could save $1.5 billion each year in utility costs and prevent greenhouse gas emissions equal to the electricity use from more than 1.3 million homes.