A Call to Action for More Efficient Clothes Dryers

Issue Brief
June 12, 2014

U.S. Consumers Missing Out on $4 Billion in Annual Savings

While major appliances like air conditioners, refrigerators, and even clothes washers have undergone significant energy efficiency improvements during the past 20 years, the amount of energy wasted by clothes dryers in the United States has received little attention, and energy efficiency standards for them remain essentially unchanged. In fact, today's typical electric clothes dryer sometimes consumes as much energy annually as a new energy efficient refrigerator, clothes washer, and dishwasher combined.

Clothes dryers are arguably the most important of all residential appliances in need of an energy efficiency upgrade. Of the washer-dryer pair, clothes washers have received more attention with a complete makeover over the past two decades. Nearly half of all models now open from the front rather than the top, which allows them to spin more water out of the clothing and reduce energy and water consumption. Additionally, washers today contain sophisticated technology for optimizing detergent, energy, and water use across various sizes and types of loads, which means they use about 75 percent less energy and 40 percent less water than they did in 1981. This remarkable success was accelerated by substantial rebates from energy and water utilities over the years.

Currently, Americans spend $9 billion annually to operate their dryers, but extensive research by NRDC and its consultant Ecova shows that just updating residential dryers to the level of the most efficient versions sold overseas could save U.S. consumers a whopping $4 billion a year. Now is the time to seize the massive energy savings opportunity they represent.