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EPA Takes on the 'Gas Guzzlers' of Home Appliances

Words by 3p Contributor
Energy & Environment
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By Diane MacEachern

For the first time ever, it is possible to buy a highly energy-efficient clothes dryer that meets performance standards set by Energy Star. As a result, consumers can save as much as $245 on energy costs over the life of the efficient dryer. The nation benefits, too. If all clothes dryers sold in the U.S. were Energy Star certified, Americans could save $1.5 billion each year in utility costs and prevent greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to more than 2 million vehicles.

Clothes dryers are the “gas guzzlers” of household appliances: They consume more energy than clothes washers, dishwashers and even refrigerators. For the past 20 years, people have been able to choose Energy Star-certified models of major energy-using products in the home. But, until now, they did not have that choice on clothes dryers.

The new certified dryers are, on average, 20 percent more efficient than new models that are not certified. Where do the enhanced efficiencies come from? Improved sensors more effectively stop the drying cycle when the load is dry, preventing over-drying and reducing energy waste. Less energy is also used during the drying process itself. Some dryers feature new advanced heat pump technology, making them 40 percent more efficient than conventional models.

When it comes to purchase price, the new certified clothes dryers cost about the same as standard models. But using them will translate into a $25 per year savings on home energy bills if you replace a dryer that’s at least 10 years old with a new Energy Star model. Plus, several cities and states offer rebates ranging from $25 to $200 on the purchase of Energy Star-certified products, reducing the machine’s costs further.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, if all those dryers 10 years and older were replaced with Energy Star certified machines, the U.S. would save more than $570 million on energy costs, and prevent 7 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions annually. That’s equal to the emissions from 670,000 vehicles or the annual electricity use of 440,000 homes, not to mention the reduced need to mine coal or drill oil.

Only five clothes dryer manufacturers have secured certification to date: Kenmore, Maytag, LG, Whirlpool and Safemate, but more than 40 models are available.

More information is available at Energy Star.

Image credit: Flickr/Maegan Tintari

Diane MacEachern is publisher of BigGreenPurse.com. Disclosure: Diane does occasional consulting for Energy Star.

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