If you would like to lower your home’s greenhouse gas emissions, you might want to consider buying a heat pump dryer?
Most homeowners have some kind of clothes dryer to help speed up the chore of doing laundry. It’s something that most of us take for granted. The problem for homeowners who are concerned about climate change is that conventional dryers are some of the most energy-hungry appliances we have. Whether they’re gas-powered or electric, those things take a lot of energy to dry our clothes.
Enter the heat pump dryer, a type of electric dryer that has been popular in Europe for a while now, and is starting to gain popularity in the US thanks to its environmentally friendly features and high efficiency.
But heat pump dyers are not for everyone.
This post aims to give you a better understanding of some heat pump dryer pros and cons. We’ll explain how heat pump dryers work, how their innovative moisture removal features lead to cost savings over time, as well as their longer lifespan and durability.
But we’ll also examine their smaller capacities, longer drying times, higher upfront costs and some of the maintenance issues you’re likely to face.
By the end we hope you’ll be able to make the right decision as to whether a heat pump dryer is the right appliance for your home.
Heat Pump Dryer Pros
Conventional clothes dryers are extremely inefficient, primarily because they utilize a heating element to heat the air inside the drum. This hot air then causes the water in the wet clothes to evaporate and the warm damp air is then exhausted through a vent outside.
The problem is that the heating element has to be kept at an extremely high temperature for the full duration of the cycle only for all of the energy used to heat it to be wasted as the heated air is expelled outdoors after only one use.
What’s more, the original source of the air in the first place is the inside of your home, and that means that either your furnace (in wintertime) or your air conditioner (in summertime) have to work overtime to replace that “lost” air.
1. Heat Pump Dryers are More Efficient
Heat pump dryers offer up to 50% more energy efficiency compared to traditional dryers through the use of two heat exchangers that work together in removing moisture from your clothes while recycling heated air instead of dumping it outside.
A heat pump dryer doesn’t need a heating element, nor does it exhaust hot air outside the way conventional dryers do. Instead, rather than generating its own heat like a traditional clothes dryer does, it merely moves heat from one area to another, which is more efficient.
Room temperature air is drawn into a condenser, which warms it up and then sends it into the drum, where it absorbs moisture from wet clothes. After passing through an evaporator, the warm damp air cools down, which causes the moisture to collect on the coil and drip into a collection tray. Then the air is recycled back into the drum so that you don’t have to continuously draw in more room temperature air.
Environmental Benefits from Lower Emissions
The energy efficiency of heat pump dryers has two main benefits. The first is that they produce significantly less carbon dioxide compared to traditional models. By choosing a heat pump dryer over a conventional vented one, you’re actively contributing towards reducing your household’s carbon footprint.
The U.S. Department of Energy provides an online tool called the Appliance Standards Program, which can help you compare different appliance models in terms of energy consumption and environmental impact.
Cost Savings with Heat Pump Dryers
The second benefit of this improved efficiency is that heat pump dryers are cheaper to run than either an either a conventional electric dryer or a gas one. In fact, research conducted by the U.S Department of Energy’s Appliance Standards Program revealed that heat pump dryers could save up to $0.29 per load when compared with traditional vented machines.
Since the average American home does five loads of laundry per week, that adds up to around $75 a year in potential savings. (Five loads! What are we all doing to get out clothes so dirty?)
2. Installation Flexibility
One of the key benefits of heat pump dryers is their installation flexibility. Unlike traditional vented dryers, these innovative appliances do not require access to external vents for proper functioning. This makes them an ideal choice for homeowners and renters who live in apartments or homes with limited space or unconventional setups.
No Need for Outdoor Venting Systems
Heat pump dryers operate by recycling heated air within the dryer itself, eliminating the need for an outdoor venting system. So you can install your dryer anywhere in your home where there’s enough space and a power outlet – no additional construction work required.
Ideal Choice for Limited Space or Unconventional Setups
- Apartments: Many apartment buildings lack proper ventilation options, making it difficult to install traditional vented dryers. Heat pump dryers offer a convenient solution without compromising on drying performance.
- Tiny homes: For those living in small spaces like tiny houses or RVs, every square inch counts. A heat pump dryer’s compact design and lack of external venting requirements make it easier to fit into tight quarters.
- Retrofitting older homes: If you’re looking to upgrade your laundry setup in an older home that lacks modern amenities such as dedicated dryer vents, consider opting for a heat pump model instead of undertaking costly renovations.
In addition to being more eco-friendly and energy-efficient than conventional models, heat pump dryers provide unparalleled installation flexibility that caters to various living situations and preferences.
Installation flexibility is a great advantage of heat pump dryers, as they can be installed in limited space or unconventional setups without needing outdoor venting systems. However, it’s important to consider the potential drawbacks before making your decision; these include smaller capacities and longer drying times as well as regular cleaning of lint filters for optimal efficiency.
3. They’re Kinder to Your Clothes
Because the operate at lower temperatures than conventional dryers, heat pump dryers will be better for the long-term health of your clothes. The heat generated by conventional dryers can cause fabrics to shrink and wear out fast than they should, And, while these kinds of laundry accidents can never be avoided completely, a heat pump dryer is far less likely to damage your clothes than a conventional one.
4. Heat Pump Dryers Last Longer
While the durability of any machine is often determined by the quality of the brand you buy, you can expect a typical heat pump dryer to last you 20 years, while the life expectancy of conventional dryers is usually somewhere between 10 and 13 years.
Proper Care for Optimal Performance
- Cleaning: Regularly clean lint filters, as well as condenser coils if applicable, to ensure your dryer operates at peak efficiency.
- Maintenance: Schedule routine service appointments with a qualified technician to inspect components such as sensors, belts, and motors for wear or damage.
- Troubleshooting: Consult your owner’s manual or contact customer support when experiencing issues with performance or functionality.
Heat Pump Dryer Cons
While heat pump dryers offer lots of advantages over both gas and electric conventional dryers, there are potential drawbacks to consider.
1. Smaller Load Capacities
Heat pump dryers typically have smaller load capacities compared to traditional models. While a conventional dryer come with a capacity of 5-7 cubic feet, 4 cubic feet is more typical for a heat pump dryer. But before you mark this as a deal breaker, you might want to monitor your own laundry habits for a few weeks. How often do you run your dryer at full capacity. In our house, now that the kids are gone, we rarely ever do.
Obviously, if you have a family, with several kids playing sports a few times a week, you’ll probably see this limited capacity as a drawback. But if it’s just you, or you’re a couple of empty-nesters, 4 cubic feet is probably plenty for your regular needs.
And if you do occasionally have to dry, say, a large comforter, a trip to the local laundromat might be the answer.
2. Longer Drying Times
In addition to being smaller, heat pump dryers operate at lower temperatures than conventional dryers, which means that they have a longer drying cycle – anywhere from 1 hour 20 minutes to 1 hour 40 minutes to dry an average load of laundry.
That compares with 30 minutes to 45 minutes that a vented dryers typically takes to dry the same load.
But again, before you think of that as a reason not to buy one, think of your own laundry habits. If you usually do your laundry in the evening and throw your clothes in the dryer before you go to bed, does it really matter if they take a little longer to dry?
Longer drying times could be a concern if your home has high laundry demands or limited time for doing laundry. Ask yourself if that describes your home.
3. Higher Upfront Cost
Heat pump dryers are typically more expensive that all but the most premium brands of conventional dryers – costing between $1,000 and $1,500. That compares to an upfront cost of $500 to $900 for a conventional electric dryer and $600 to $1,000 for a gas dryer.
Despite this increased cost, heat pump dryers are arguably a better long term investment when you take into consideration their longer lifespan and lower operating cost.
4. Slightly More Maintenance Required
We’ve all got used to just throwing our clothes into the dryer and forgetting about them until they’re dry. Heat pumps dryers do demand a little more of us, but not much.
Draining or Emptying the Water Tray
While heat pump dryers don’t vent hot air as part of their drying process, they do extract water from the clothes which then needs to be disposed of. And the drain hose that comes with the appliance is only useful if your dryer is near a basin, sink, or tub.
Without any place to drain, the water tray will have to be manually emptied on a regular basis (typically, after every second use).
Regular Cleaning of Lint Filters for Optimal Efficiency
To maintain the energy efficiency of your heat pump dryer, it is essential to regularly clean the lint filter after each use. Failure to do so can lead to decreased performance and even damage the appliance over time. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions on proper care and maintenance.
Refrigerant Leaks: Importance of Proper Installation and Servicing
Refrigerant leaks can occur in heat pump dryers if not properly installed or serviced by qualified technicians. Leaking refrigerants pose both an environmental hazard due to their greenhouse gas emissions as well as a safety risk for homeowners.
Ensure that your heat pump dryer is regularly serviced by certified personnel who adhere to proper safety guidelines.
Considering all the heat pump dryer pros and cons, they are an excellent option for those wanting to reduce their carbon footprint as they offer energy-efficiency, cost savings in the long run, durability and flexibility with installation.
Heat pump dryers boast a multitude of advantages, such as being highly energy-efficient, financially beneficial in the long run, robust and adaptable when it comes to installation. However, there are also some drawbacks such as smaller capacities and longer drying cycles.
If you’re thinking of buying a more eco-friendly dryer, check out our reviews of the five best heat pump dryers here. And you can also check out our review of GE’s One and Done Heat Pump Washer Dryer Combo.
Heat Pump Dryer Pros
Heat Pump Dryer Cons
FAQs For Heat Pump Dryers
Is a heat pump dryer wort the extra expense?
A heat pump dryer can be worth the investment because it’s more efficient, has a lower cost per load, lowers greenhouse gas emissions, and can be installed in any room of the house. But you have to consider upfront cost and potential maintenance needs before making a decision.
Do heat pump dryers take longer to dry clothes?
Yes, heat pump dryers generally take longer to dry clothes than conventional models because they use lower temperatures during the drying cycle. This extended drying time contributes to their higher energy efficiency but might not suit those with tight schedules or large laundry loads.
Do heat pump dryers use a lot of electricity?
No, in fact, heat pump dryers consume significantly less electricity than traditional electric vented tumble-dryer counterparts due to their advanced technology that recycles hot air instead of constantly generating new heated air.