Innovation in Clothes Dryers? Yes, With Energy Star

For those of us who always buy Energy Star products, it’s been frustrating that there are no efficient models for clothes dryers -the biggest energy hog in homes. 

That will finally change on January 1, 2015, when Energy Star dryers enter the market that are at least 20% more efficient. Dryers consume about 900 kilowatt-hours a year, twice that of the second biggest hog – refrigerators.

Higher end models will feature a fantastic innovation that’s common in Europe – heat pump dryers that capture the hot air and recirculate it. Today’s dryers generate a lot of hot air, most of which is wasted and goes out the vent. In this case, the dryer recycles the heat, no vent needed. Less expensive models will likely have better sensors that turn the dryer off when clothes are dry. 

Dryers will also be part of the new generation of interactive products that give people feedback on their energy use – in this case, which drying cycles save the most energy. And they will  be "Smart Grid-ready."

LG is the first to introduce a heat pump dryer in the US (there are 20 models sold in Europe, where electricity prices are much higher) and will be in stores this summer for about $1,500. It saves up to 50% of energy.

Clothes Dryer

This year, new standards for refrigerators went into effect,  improving efficiency by 25% over previous models and 80% from those sold in the mid-1970s. Other new standards are for dishwashers and clothes washers, and on the commercial side, for motors and walk-in coolers.

"If consumers upgraded to the most efficient products on the market today, we could save as much energy as Argentina uses in an entire year," says Sameer Kwatra at American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). Without even considering essential appliances (refrigerator, lights, HVAC), the US consumes more than the primary energy use of 200 countries including Mexico, Australia, New Zealand.

By 2030, energy standards will cut US consumption by 15%.

Energy Star labels got their start in 1992 with computers, and are now found on 70 categories of products, from refrigerators,  cable boxes and those controversial light bulbs to home construction. Over the past two decades, 4.5 billion products have sold bearing the label, while 1.5 million new homes and 23,000 office buildings, schools and hospitals have earned certification.  Los Angeles tops the list for Energy Star buildings.

Read our article, Energy Star Reaches High Penetration Rates for Homes, Appliances.

Check out ACEEE’s database on state and local policies on energy efficiency:

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