Photo of a bright laundry room with a washer, dryer, ironing board, drying rack and colorful towels and bottles.

If you are looking for a way to increase the efficiency of your home and reduce energy costs, a heat pump dryer may be the right choice for you. Heat pump dryers have many advantages that could be an asset to your home.  

Heat pump dryers are unique in that they don’t need a vent to the outside. Instead, similar to other heat pump appliances, these dryers utilize ambient air to help accomplish their respective tasks. They also reuse the hot air, which saves a significant amount of money. This naturally reduces the amount of energy used and your overall energy costs. 

This article serves as a deep dive into heat pump dryers, detailing cost comparisons, providing pros and cons, and determining if it is the right choice for your home. 

What are Heat Pump Dryers? 

Heat pump dryers use ambient air to heat air to dry clothes. The technology has significantly expanded in recent years for good reason. When appliances can pull energy from the air around them, it reduces the amount of power needed and results in significant savings on energy costs. 

How Do Heat Pump Dryers Differ From Conventional Dryers?

Heat pump dryers are different from standard dryers in several ways. First, they do not require ductwork to run. This makes them simple and less expensive to install. This also means homeowners can install the dryers nearly anywhere in their home. For some homeowners, this can be very important. Traditional dryers restrict a homeowner’s ability to choose the location. With heat pump dryers, this is no longer an issue. 

Second, heat pump dryers use two heat exchangers, while a standard dryer only has one. The second heat exchanger removes the water from the air in the dryer, which can either be collected into a drip tray or discharged through a tube into a drain. The heated air can then be reused to continue drying the clothes. This recycling of hot air makes heat pump dryers very energy efficient. 

The hot air is blown over the clothes as the drum rotates. This evaporates the water from the clothes. The dryer then puts the humid air through a second heat exchanger, which cools the air down slightly, so the water condenses again. The drip tray or tube then collects the water, and the air is recycled and used repeatedly. 

Heat pump dryers can reduce energy usage by as much as 50% and directly impact your energy costs. In addition, they have a very fast return on investment, and they save an average of $0.29 per load, which adds up quite quickly over time. 

Interior view of a heat pump dryer

How are Heat Pump Dryers Different from Standard Dryers? 

There are two types of standard dryers, gas and electric. The only difference between the two standard dryers is that one uses gas energy to heat the air in the dryer and one uses electricity. Other than that, they function identically. The term standard or traditional dryer applies to traditional gas and electric dryers for the article’s sake. 

A traditional or standard dryer works by heating air and blowing it over the wet clothes while the drum rotates. The hot air evaporates the water, and then the moist air is vented to the outside. A traditional dryer is constantly heating air to push through the dryer.

These standard dryers must be vented to the outdoors. Because the dryer discards the moisture and air together, it needs to push the air outside. This can make finding a place for a dryer challenging and can increase installation costs. 

The purpose of traditional dryers is to dry the clothes as fast as possible. They don’t typically consider energy efficiency, though there are more and more ENERGYSTAR Certified traditional dryers on the market. The high heat of standard dryers also means they can be hard on your clothes and reduce their lifespan. 

Cost Differences Between Conventional and Heat Pump Dryers

The average cost of drying a load of clothes for a traditional electric dryer is between $0.53 and $0.55. This cost is usually between $0.38 and $0.39 per load for a standard gas dryer. As a comparison, the average price for a load of laundry for a heat pump dryer is between $0.17 and $0.33. 

The cost per load is different between traditional and heat pump dryers because heat pump dryers have a second heat exchanger that reuses the hot air. A traditional dryer heats the air and then pumps it out very quickly. Instead of reusing air like a heat pump dryer, new hot air is constantly running through a traditional gas or electric dryer. 

There is another cost difference between traditional and heat pump dryers, including the appliance’s cost. Heat pump dryers have a higher upfront cost than traditional dryers. For new homes or renovations, though, that may require the installation of vent plumbing for traditional dryers. This is an added cost that homeowners need to remember when comparing traditional and heat pump dryers. 

Advantages of Heat Pump Dryers

Heat pump dryers have a lot of pros. They can add a huge benefit to your home for multiple different reasons. Here are some of the benefits of a heat pump dryer. 

Ventless Technology

Heat pump dryers do not have a vent. This means you do not need to pay for special plumbing or installation for a heat pump dryer to run. This also means you can put it nearly anywhere in your home. In addition, there is more flexibility with the location of a heat pump dryer because it doesn’t need to be vented to the outside.

Energy Efficiency

As was mentioned above, having a heat pump dryer can save you up to $0.29 per load. In addition, over time, it can reduce energy usage by 50% compared to traditional gas or electric dryers. Not only does this save you money, but it is also simply better for the environment. 

They’re Gentle On Clothes

Because heat pump dryers recycle the hot air and do not heat new air continuously, the drying process is gentler on the clothes. The purpose of the dryer is not to dry clothes as fast as possible. A nice side effect of that is heat pump dryers do not blast your clothes with high heat for the entire time. This can extend the life of your clothes and make them feel softer when you wear them. 

Lifespan

A heat pump dryer has a lifespan of about 20 years. This is almost double the lifespan of a traditional dryer. A traditional gas or electric dryer has a lifespan of 10-13 years. This makes a huge difference in the return on investment for these dryers. Not only do they save money on every load, but they also last significantly longer. 

Drawbacks of Heat Pump Dryers

Despite all of their pros, there are some cons to a heat pump dryer. They aren’t the perfect fit for everyone, and knowing both the pros and cons is an essential part of the research process. 

Overhead Cost

The upfront cost of a heat pump dryer is more expensive than traditional dryers. That being said, the sticker may say more, but there are no plumbing installation costs to account for. Additionally, you will need to purchase two traditional dryers in the lifespan of one heat pump dryer. 

Slower to Dry

Heat pump dryers do not run as hot as a traditional dryer. This is a benefit because it is gentler on your clothes; however, it can be a con because it can take longer to dry. The time difference is not necessarily significant, but heat pump dryers may not be the answer if you are looking for the fastest drying time. 

Conclusion

Heat pump dryers are an asset to a wide range of homes. One of their most significant benefits is they are ventless, essential and you can install them nearly anywhere in a home. This is a game-changer for homeowners who have historically been restricted to some regions of the house because the vent needs to be installed. 

Additionally, heat pump dryers can save a significant amount of money on energy costs and have almost double the lifespan of a traditional dryer. While the initial sticker price of a heat pump dryer may be higher than a traditional electric or gas dryer, the money saved over time is significant. Additionally, the dryer’s lifespan means your initial investment will go a lot farther over time. 

While heat pump dryers take longer to dry, they are gentler on your clothes. For some homeowners, this could be a pro and a con. If drying speed is the most critical aspect of the dryer for you, a heat pump dryer may not be the best fit. On the other hand, heat pump dryers will help your clothes have longer lives, though the time difference is potentially insignificant.  

Climate affects some heat pump appliances such as heat pump water heaters. In the case of heat pump dryers, this is not the case. Heat pump dryers are effective in all climates. They also work in nearly any type of home and do not have a space requirement like some other heat pump appliances do. 

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