Drying clothes in the winter can be a frustrating process without a tumble dryer to speed it along.
But running a tumble dryer is not cheap!
You may already have a tumble dryer, but be concerned about the cost of running it. Or you may be toying with buying one – but they’re either out of your price range or space is tight.
I’ve been having this debate with myself for years – being a mum with two kids at school means we get through a lot of laundry each week and in those winter months it can take days to dry.
So I decided to check out whether a dehumidifier would be cheaper to run than a tumble dryer. The answer is yes, they are much cheaper despite taking a few hours longer to dry your clothes.
Now the only challenge is to find a reasonably priced dehumidifier that has not sold out during the cold snap of winter!
As I’ve been crunching the numbers, I thought I would share the information I found out to help you make your own buying decision!
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Verdict: Is it cheaper to use a tumble dryer or dehumidifier for drying clothes?
A dehumidifier does work out cheaper to dry clothes compared to using a tumble dryer.
It’s important to note that a tumble dryer can dry a load in around 45 minutes, whereas a dehumidifier takes five to six hours.
Despite this time difference, it is still cheaper to run the dehumidifier because it costs around 6p per hour (so around 36p per load) to run, compared to a tumble dryer which may cost around £1.40 to £2 per cycle.
If you multiply that over the course of a whole year – say you do four loads per week – the dehumidifier will cost you £74.88 while the tumble dryer will cost at least £291.20 a year and at most £416 a year.
That’s a saving of as much as £341.12.
These prices will vary depending on the current price cap on energy and the exact appliance you have purchased (which we will dig into shortly).
You may also like my article sharing my own experiences of using a dehumidifier to dry clothes.
Cost of running dehumidifier vs tumble dryer to dry clothes
These figures illustrate how much it can cost to run both types of appliance. It can vary depending on what type of model you purchase, how old it is, as well as what settings you use it on.
I’ve gone with the highest costs in the below examples to give you a good idea of the maximum costs involved.
These costs have been worked out using the average price cap of 30p/kWh as set by energy regulator Ofgem from July 2023.
We all hope that energy prices will take a tumble. In the meantime you may find my frugal living tips useful.
Tumble dryer cost
The cost of running your tumble dryer per week will depend on how many times you use it, how long it takes to dry your laundry and what type of dryer you own.
There are three different types of tumble dryers:
- A condenser removes moisture from your clothes and stores it in a removable tank.
- The heat pump type recycles hot air created inside the drum to dry clothes. These are the most energy efficient by quite a lot – check out the table below showing the comparison.
- A vented tumble dryer is the least energy efficient. It takes the moisture from your clothes and feeds it outside through a vent (making it more of a challenge to install in your home too).
Taking a general look at these different types and what they cost to run, I’ve worked out this quick guide looking at the wattage of the different sorts of dryers.
A device’s power is measured in Watts (or thousands of Watts called Kilowatts). The amount of electrical energy they use is measured in Kilowatt Hours.
If you want to see how much your own tumble dryer costs to run, check the wattage and use that to work out how much it costs per hour to run.
I’ve used 8kg models (do bear in mind that the energy used may vary from brand to brand) here as an example:
|Tumble dryer type||Energy used||Cost per use||Cost per year (based on 3 uses per week)|
Just like with tumble dryers, there are also different types of dehumidifiers.
There are two main types:
- The desiccant acts as a small heater that absorbs water molecules present in the air.
- A compressor (or refrigerant) takes in warm, damp air and then cools it. This condenses the air and squeezes out the moisture. A compressor generally works out cheaper to run.
As well as the different costs, they also come with different capacities. For the purposes of this cost comparison we will look at a couple of different sized ones.
Want to figure out how many kWh your device will use? Try this Watts to kWh calculator!
This calculation assumes you use the dehumidifier for six hours per load – you may use yours for longer.
It’s also important to remember to wattage may vary from one machine to another, so check your machine’s details so you can calculate the cost.
|Humidifier type||Energy used||Cost per use||Cost per year (based on 3 uses per week)|
|20 litre dehumidifier – 280W||1.12kWh||48p||£74.88|
|12 litre dehumidifier – 150W||0.6kWh||24p||£37.44|
How to choose a dehumidifier for drying clothes
When shopping for a dehumidifier specifically to help dry your clothes it can be overwhelming as there are so many on the market!
They start at around £100 but can cost a lot more depending on the brand and size of the dehumidifier.
You may think it’s better to go big or go home when it comes to your dehumidifier’s capacity, however a larger model may not be necessary for drying laundry in a smaller room such as a utility.
If you are drying laundry in a larger room then you may need a dehumidifier with a larger capacity.
Compressor machines are more expensive to run than desiccant dehumidifiers – because the latter is also returning heat into the room.
The desiccant may be a better choice for use in cold rooms in winter, as they will also heat the room, meaning you may not need the heating on as frequently. That’s an extra saving.
Look for an energy efficient unit and bear in mind when reading reviews that how a machine operates in one person’s home is quite specific, so consider the environment you’ll be using it in too. Room size also makes a difference.
So which is best for drying your clothes?
Without a doubt a dehumidifier will save you money, however if you need your clothes dried with speed then a tumble dryer is still the way to go.
If you do choose a tumble dryer and need a new one, look for a heat pump machine – as these are more energy efficient.
They will be more expensive up front – I recommend taking advantage of cashback sites like Top Cashback when making any big purchase such as this.
If you don’t have either a tumble dryer or a dehumidifier then try these clothes drying tips:
Extra spin cycle
You can add a spin cycle on your washing machine to help wring a little more moisture out of your clothes.
This means it should dry a little quicker.
Try a heated airer
Your regular clothes airer will work fine as long as you space the clothes out well, however to speed things along you can try a heated airer.
These are cheaper to run than a tumble dryer, and it’s a bit like draping your clothes on a radiator. It may take your clothes four to five hours to dry, but it’s better than the several days they can take on a normal airer.
Choose a warm, ventilated room
Pick your warmest room in the house to dry your clothes, placing your clothes airer close to a radiator.
Having air circulating through the room is important too, and this will prevent the risk of mould appearing.
If you are looking to save money on your household bills then it’s worth considering the above costs.