Tumble dryers have a reputation for having poor energy ratings and being expensive to run. If you’re conscientious about budget, saving the environment, or both, it can make you wary about shopping for a tumble dryer at all.
Line drying doesn’t work for everyone though: whether you live in a place that disallows certain garments being line-dried, or you just need to dry clothes more quickly than line drying allows, a tumble dryer is considered something of a necessity in modern life. Luckily, as technology has developed, additional tumble drying options have joined the marketplace.
Here, we’ll talk through the different types of dryers and the costs associated with them to help inform your decision on what model might work best for you.
Energy Ratings & How They Work
In order to understand which tumble dryers cost the least to run, first you need to know how energy ratings work. In August 2007, Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) were introduced in England and Wales.
They were intended to rate most domestic appliances (also known as white goods) and assign them a clear label so that when consumers were buying or renting a given appliance, they would know how well it rated in terms of energy efficiency classes.
When EPCs were initially rolled out, they fell into classes from A through G, with A being the most energy efficient and G the least: in the years since, A+, A++, and A+++ have been introduced for various products in an attempt to keep pace with developments in energy efficiency.
EPCs also give other helpful advice on the label that consumers can use to help them decide between the various models of a given appliance on the market.
So how are tumble dryers graded?
Grades are applied according to a given machine’s energy consumption as rated in kWh (units of energy used per hour). The fewer kWh an appliance uses, the more efficient it is.
Energy efficient appliances do tend to cost a bit more than their counterparts, but they’ll also grant you significant savings on your utilities bills so it all sort of comes out in the wash (no pun intended). And the fact that they’re great for the environment is really all the selling point we need.
Cheapest Tumble Dryers To Run
When you shop for dryers, you may assume that they’re all more or less the same. It may therefore surprise you to find out that there are three types of tumble dryers: heat pump, condenser, and vented tumble dryers. Each kind has it’s pros and cons: while some may seem cheaper to start with, their lack of energy efficiency may cost you more money in the long run.
We’ll break down each separate type of dryer for you, show you the cheapest dryers to run (that use the least electricity) and how much they cost:
#1 Heat Pump: Most Efficient
Heat pump dryers are definitely top of the pile where the environment is concerned. They start close to £350 and you can spend upwards of £1249 on one. But it’s also the most energy efficient, cheapest to run, dryer by far: most heat pump tumble dryers carry an A+ or higher energy rating, so you are paying for quality.
Our favourite is:
The Bosch Serie 6 Heat Pump Tumble Dryer is extraordinarily efficient, with an A++ energy drinking. It features a self-cleaning condenser which both guarantees the appliance’s efficient performance, and leaves less work for you to do. It also boasts a SensitiveDrying system with a unique drum structure that eliminates creases in drying clothing. An ECARF Quality seal makes this tumble dryer especially perfect for allergy sufferers and people with sensitive skin.
Run cost: annual energy consumption 232 kWh at cost of £29.00.
More info: Bosch Serie 6 Heat Pump Tumble Dryer
Condenser tumble dryers are the middle tier of tumble dryers: they have a wide price range, and it’s possible to get a condenser dryer anywhere from £199 to over £900. They typically average about a B rating. This can be a good compromise if you find a condenser dryer that meets your needs at the lower end of the price range, but if you’re dropping £900 you’re not going to want to settle for less than an A rating.
Our favourite is:
The Bosch Condenser Tumble Dryer shares the SensitiveDrying system of the Bosch Heat Pump Tumble Dryer above, and also features a clear, easy to use LED display and a low 65 dB noise level. However, its condenser is not self-cleaning: this means more work for you and more work for the machine, which drops the energy rating to a B.
Run cost: annual energy consumption 560 kWh at a cost of £70.00 (£41 more than our favourite heat pump dryer).
More info: BOSCH WTN83200GB Condenser Tumble Dryer
Of the three types of tumble dryers, vented dryers tend to be the most affordable: their prices typically max out around £299 and many are far cheaper: even the top of the line vented dryers are less expensive than than the cheapest heat pump dryers.
Vented dryers are, however, the least energy efficient options of all three types of tumble dryers. They average a C rating.
The Hoover HL Vented NFC Tumble Dryer is the least expensive of our three choices, so it should come as no surprise that it comes with a C rating. Its features in part explain why it’s a bit of an energy hog: It boasts the ability to dry a pair of jeans in just 40 minutes.
It does though also add some features to mitigate its lack of energy efficiency. A delay start feature and the ability to control your settings from your smartphone enable you to easily dry your clothes during non-peak times so you can save a bit on your electricity.
It also offers sensor drying so you won’t overdry your clothes. An extra-large porthole also makes loading and unloading easier, which should save some of your energy, too!
Run cost: annual energy consumption 580 kWh at a cost of £72.50 (only just more that the condenser but £43.50 more than the heat pump dryer).
More info: HOOVER HL V8DG Vented Tumble Dryer
How much does electricity cost on average in the UK?
It’s difficult to nail down a precise estimate of electricity cost in the UK, as it depends on a multitude of factors including variable tariffs, size of home, insulation, what kind of light bulbs you use, etc. But if you leave aside gas and just focus on electricity it averages out like so: a one or two bedroom flat will spend about £34 per month or £403 per year, a three or four bedroom house will run about £49 per month or £590 annually, while a five bedroom house will cost £70 a month or £864 each year.
Why are some tumble dryers so expensive to run?
Again, there are many factors at play when determining why tumble dryers can drive up your energy bill. First, they require a tremendous amount of heat to get clothes dry. Additionally, they need to pull the water out of your damp clothing while it tumbles and get rid of it, whether that’s by pulling moisture into a condenser (self-cleaning or manual) or venting it out.
On top of those costs, other factors can weight in: if you do your laundry during peak electricity time it costs more, and dryers that are overfilled work a lot more slowly and expend a lot more energy, all of which shows up on your energy bill over time.
How did you work out the prices?
We used the average kWh cost across the major supplies (source: ukpower) and the manufacturers average energy consumption per year to come up with our costings. Regardless of how much you pay in kWh the lower the annual consumption the cheaper the machine will be to run.
How much more do lower rated appliances cost to run?
The most efficient machine we recommended comes in at a cost of £29. The least efficient costs £72.50 so it’s more than double the cost. However the difference in cost of the two dryers would mean you’d need somewhere in the region of 10 years usage before you start to save money. The planet will obviously be thanking you for using less electricity though!