The 7 Best Energy-Efficient Clothing Dryers of 2021

Reduce your impact with these efficient dryers

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The Rundown
"This dryer gets extremely high marks for durability, efficiency, and quietness."
"If you are going to try a washer/dryer combos, this one is efficient and has high marks."
"Besides being stackable, this dryer has a reversible door to save on even more space."
"Ideal for campers or small apartments, this dryer can be stowed away when not in use."
"Small but mighty, this dryer offers all the functionality of a larger-capacity machine."
"If you are living on the road, this low-impact dryer gives you the luxury of fresh clothes."
"With a separate drying tray, this energy-efficient machine dries sweaters in no time."

Dryers use the most energy of all home appliances (only air-conditioning or electric heat and your water heater uses more), so it’s worth finding an efficient model and using it judiciously. For this reason, even if you have a dryer, it’s worth air drying when you can. At 40 to 50 cents a load, depending on your electricity rates, you’ll save money, and your clothes will last longer too, because dryers are hard on fabrics. You can calculate exactly how much your current model, or one you are interested in buying, costs you by using this calculator

There’s nothing more energy-efficient than air-drying, of course. Especially if you live in a place with abundant sunshine and warm temperatures, it can definitely be worth the financial savings, both in purchase and use costs, to avoid buying a dryer and to air dry clothes on a line or rack. However, not everyone has the space or the weather for air-drying. 

We researched the market to find the most energy-efficient electric dryers:

Best Overall: LG DLE3400W 7.4 Cu. Ft. 8-Cycle Electric Dryer with FlowSense™

LG DLE3500W 7.4 Cu. Ft. White Electric Dryer

This dryer gets extremely high marks for durability, efficiency, and quietness—and it’s almost half the price of other similar LG dryers with more features. However, it doesn’t feel like a budget option, since it’s got everything you need from a dryer, including a moisture sensor which will prevent overdrying, and an extended tumble dry to minimize wrinkles.

It can handle bigger loads with a special cycle selection, so it will give you more flexibility than you might expect from a machine with a large-but-not-huge drum. That smaller size means it will fit into more spaces (like an upstairs closet or a smaller utility room). It's vented and stackable, but not WiFi compatible.

Related: The Best High-Efficiency Washing Machines

Best Washer/Dryer Combo: LG Electronics WM3488HW 2.3 cu. ft. Compact All-in-One Washer and Dryer Combo

LG Electronics 2.3 cu. ft. All-in-one Front Load Washer and Electric Ventless Dryer in White

Washer/dryer combos aren’t for everyone—you're asking a lot from one device. Because washing and drying happens in one unit, it’s a pretty long process (how long depends on the items being washed and the cycles chosen). However if you're determined to have just one machine that can wash and dry laundry from start to finish, this LG model offers the convenience of putting dirty clothes in before work and getting home from work to clean stuff.

This unit has an average-sized drum for wash sizes equivalent to non-combo units, and it can be set up to dry without a vent. That means renters and people in apartments can use this dryer without altering a wall. Because it’s a combo unit, this isn’t Energy Star rated, but it is CEE Tier 1 rated, which is the same standard as Energy Star.

Best Stackable: GE GFD55ESSNWW 28 Inch Front Load Smart Electric Dryer

GE GFD55ESSNWW Front Load Electric Smart Dryer

There are many matching or paired washing machines and dryers available—but be careful, some are designed simply to match when placed side-by-side. If you need or want to stack these units, they need to be designed for stacking vertically. This dryer is Energy Star certified and will stack on top of another GE washer (check sizing). You'll need to order a separate stacking kit.

This dryer here has a moisture sensor and 10 settings (including steam settings to kill bacteria or unwrinkle clothes), as well as a roomy drum that will fit the contents of the washer. The door is reversible (left to right) for even more flexibility in a tight space, and there are several venting configurations. It's also compatible with smart devices, like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.

Best Portable: Panda 110V Electric Portable Compact Laundry Clothes Dryer

Panda electric dryer

This is a small dryer that can be put away when not in use, and it will dry a couple pairs of jeans, five t-shirts, or a queen-size sheet in about an hour. If you have a small portable washing machine, this could be a good partner for it. It weighs just over 40 pounds.

It plugs into a regular 110-volt wall outlet, and you can vent it outside via a window if you want to get a vent set, or just have the smell of your drying laundry inside. It does kick off some heat, so that's a consideration. You can also buy a separate lint catcher if you want one. It can be stacked on a Panda portable washing machine or mounted on a wall. It works well and is ideal for campers or small apartments.

Best Compact: Samsung DV22N6800HW 4.0 cu. ft. 24" Ventless Heat Pump Electric Dryer with Smart Care

Samsung - 4.0 cu. ft. 24" Ventless Heat Pump Electric Dryer with Smart Care - White

This dryer made the Energy Star Most Efficient List for 2020, due to its super-efficient heat-pump and air recycling. It’s small and ventless, so it's a great pick for tight spaces like closets and apartments. The machine's compact size of only 24 inches wide means the drum is only 4.2 cubic meters, which is about half the size of a large-capacity dryer.

However, it includes all the functions of a larger machine, with a moisture sensor and 12 preset cycles. This dryer also features an interior light inside the drum, a reversible door option, and an app to help you troubleshoot if any issues arise. It's not WiFi compatible, but you can program custom drying cycles to maximize your drying efficiency.

Best for Travel: KASYDoFF Foldable Clothes Drying Rack

If you are living on the road, have an RV, or vacation space that won’t accommodate even a portable unit, a travel drying closet or rack is a super energy-efficient way to dry clothes. It could also be used to dry lighter items or a lot of delicates in lieu of a full-size machine, if you only have a couple of loads of laundry a week or can hang them outside part-time but need a back-up. There are a few available in different sizes and configurations, but this one is able to accommodate a regular load of laundry and dry it in a few hours.

You may be surprised at how well it works, and since it doesn’t tumble clothes, it’s easy on fabrics. This kind of a portable dryer can be pulled out from a closet or the trunk of a car, used, and then put away again, or left standing. This device is not Energy Star rated because it’s not really an appliance, but it uses very little electricity. You could pair this with a foot-powered washing machine and have an exceptionally low-impact clothes cleaning system.

Best Multidry: Samsung DVE60M9900V FlexDry 7.5-cu ft Energy Star Certified Electric Dryer

Samsung FlexDry Dryer

This is the most expensive dryer on the list, but it offers something the others don’t: A separate drying tray that speeds the time those lay-flat-to-dry items take to be wearable. For example, a cotton sweater that might take a day or more to dry in regular household air will dry in an hour using this feature, which would also be useful for delicates, accessories, sneakers, and even stuffed animals.

The main dryer part of this unit gets solid marks for drying everything else, as it has a moisture sensor, as well as steam options to get rid of bacteria, wrinkles, and static. It even has a sensor that will go off if the dryer’s vent gets blocked—to keep the unit working most efficiently. It’s both Energy Star rated and designed to use less energy. It's also runs quietly.

What to Consider When Shopping for an Energy Efficient Clothing Dryer

Energy-Saving Indicators

Look for dryers that have an Energy Star certification and that have moisture sensors, which should cut down on excess drying time by shutting off the machine automatically when closes are dry. 

Size

Be sure to measure the space where you'll locate your dryer, including the space for the machine's door to open. You should also measure any narrow hallways or doorways that might impede delivery.

If you wash and dry a lot, and need to dry larger items, look for a larger-capacity drum—the size will ensure that even in larger loads, clothes have enough room to tumble around, and smaller loads will dry very quickly. But if you only do a couple smaller loads a week, consider if a compact or even portable machine could meet your needs. 

Vents and Plugs

If you have a vent already in place for your dryer, you will have more options if you keep it vented. If you don’t, there are ventless dryer options, which condense the moisture and then require that water to be removed, which is a simple process or can be sent to a drain. 

You may need a special plug for electric dryers, but if there is a dryer in your laundry room or basement already, it's likely that you can use the same plug that’s already there. 

FAQs

Which is greener–gas dryers or electric dryers?

Natural gas is a nice-sounding name for methane, which is a powerful greenhouse gas. If we want to prevent catastrophic climate change, we need to transition away from fossil fuels as quickly as possible. So, that’s a big reason to pick an electric dryer over a gas-burning one. 

We’ve only included electric dryers on this list because those are the majority of dryers sold. No major companies make a compact gas dryer, they are available in full-size only. Gas dryers do typically dry faster, but with new features and sensors on the latest generation of electric dryers, that gap is narrowing. A new compact, ventless electric dryer can now dry a load of towels in about 90 minutes.

How can I make my dryer more efficient?

You can always up your efficiency by choosing the right setting and heat level for the clothing you’re drying. Make sure your washer’s spin cycle is effective too—the more water in your clothes, the longer they will take to dry in the dryer. If you use a delicate cycle or hand wash, it may be worth it to do an extra spin cycle on your clothes (as long as they aren’t too fragile) to get more water out of them, or for very delicate pieces, roll them into a towel and squeeze to remove water. 

You can cut electricity costs and resource use by pulling lightweight cottons and especially polyester clothes like leggings or other sport clothes out and hanging on a drying rack or wherever you have space. If you pull a third to half of your load for air drying while tumbling the rest of your thicker clothes, it will take them less time to dry, using less energy. Plus, you may be able to combine two washes into one load of drying if you remove some items to hang dry. 

Lastly, if a few items in a dryer load are a bit damp when you take them out of the dryer, hang them up in your closet to dry rather than drying the whole load again; those couple of towels or sweatshirts are nearly there; they don’t need a full dry cycle to get finished. If you don’t want to take the time to hang them or need them right away, program your dryer for a short cycle and take the rest of the dry clothes out. This will help your clothes last longer, too. Tumble drying is hard on clothes (all that lint is your clothes and linens slowly degrading).

Are dryer sheets safe to use in an electric clothes dryer?

If you use a vented machine, keep in mind that everything you use in your dryer (like scented dryer sheets) will affect the outside air quality, whether that’s your own backyard or your shared neighborhood air.

Dryer sheets often contain volatile organic compounds, acetone, and artificial fragrances which are known to cause respiratory concerns and exacerbate asthma. The coating that dryer sheets leave behind can clog your dryer, especially the moisture sensors, making it less efficient. The polyester sheets left behind when you have used a dryer sheet aren’t recyclable, either, creating waste.

Consider using reusable lavender sachets or a few drops of essential oil on a reusable piece of fabric for a lower-waste and non-polluting option to scent laundry.

Why Trust Treehugger?

We researched many dryers to identify the most efficient options on the market. All the tumble dryers on this list are electric, have moisture sensors which should cut down on excess drying time, and are Energy Star certified, except where indicated (the portable and travel machines).

Author Starre Vartan has been an environmental and science journalist for more than 15 years. She founded an award-winning eco-website and has written a book on living green.