The Heat Pump Dryer May Be the Answer to the Energy Crisis in Our Laundry Room

This story is part of Treehugger's news archive. Learn more about our news archiving process or read our latest news.
Promo image. LG

Clothes dryers are huge energy hogs; basically they use electricity to heat air, pick up the moisture from the clothing and then throw it outside. Then your home furnace or air conditioner has to do more work heating or cooling the replacement air. That's why five years ago every green website was nutso about clotheslines as the green alternative. That didn't quite catch on, but now there is an alternative, one that is popular in Europe and coming to America: The heat pump, or condensing dryer.

This is such a clever idea: instead of just pumping the hot air out, it is run through an air source heat pump that condenses the moisture out of the air on the cold end of the heat pump, and then recirculates the air, reheating it with the hot end of the heat pump. A Bosch design even uses the waste water to wash the lint filter so you don't have to.

It's a closed loop that doesn't exhaust to the outside, doesn't require any makeup air. According to Consumer Reports, the LG unit will sell in America for about $ 1500 and will be 50% more energy efficient than a conventional dryer, and that doesn't include heating or cooling the makeup air, lost in your home utility bill somewhere. Given that the average family spends $ 300 per year powering their clothes dryer, that extra cost of the dryer gets paid off pretty quickly.

heat pump dryers

Miele/Screen capture

On their special heat pump dryer website, Miele claims that it saves 60% on energy, that the drying temperature is reduced and that the laundry room is a lot more comfortable. These units have been sold in Europe for a decade because of the high cost of electricity, but have been slow to make it to North America because of the lower costs here. This is certainly changing.

We keep saying that the single most important thing you should do to save energy is to seal your house. That's hard when you are pumping hot air out a four inch hole in the laundry room wall. This this looks like the answer to a big problem.