How much does a tumble dryer cost to run?

With energy prices set to remain high for the next two years, find out how much your tumble dryer costs to run and how you can keep running costs as low as possible

how much does a tumble drier cost to run
(Image credit: Getty/Future)

If you’re wondering how much does a tumble dryer cost to run, you’re not alone. As we head into cooler months, it’ll become less practical to try and dry laundry outside and, despite an energy bill freeze (opens in new tab) coming into force from 1 October, energy bills are higher than they were last year. 

If you’re worried about how much your energy bills will cost (opens in new tab), a key way to keep bills as low as possible is to reduce how much energy you use. And to reduce your energy usage, it helps to understand which appliances cost the most to run.

Tumble dryers may make drying clothes a lot more convenient, but they tend to use a lot of energy. Here we share how much your tumble dryer costs to run and the hacks you need to know to keep costs as low as possible.

Kalpana Fitzpatrick (opens in new tab), Editor of our sister brand The Money Edit says: “While energy bills won’t rise as much as predicted in October, thanks to Liz Truss’ Energy Price Guarantee, which will effectively replace the energy price cap (opens in new tab), prices are still higher than they were this time last year, and many families will still struggle to make ends meet. 

“To keep bills as low as possible, it’s really important to understand which are the most energy-guzzling appliances in your home and think about how you can use them differently.” 

How much does a tumble dryer cost to run?

As of October 2022, an average 8kg tumble dryer will cost between £91.80 and £198.90 per year to run. But the exact figure will depend on the type, specification and energy rating of your tumble dryer as well as how often you use it. Those with larger families will likely need to use their tumble dryer more often than someone who lives alone. They might also have a larger capacity dryer that uses more energy to dry clothes.

There are three different types of tumble dryer available:

  • condenser
  • vented
  • heat pump.

Let’s look at the running costs for an example of each type. For our calculation, we’ll use 8kg models in our examples (which should be suitable for medium sized families) and assume that the tumble dryer will be used about twice a week. 

When it comes to the cost of electricity, the price you pay per kWh of electricity is due to change on 1 October when the energy bill freeze, also known as the Energy Price Guarantee, comes into effect. From 1 October, you will pay 34p per kWh of electricity you use. But until then, you will pay 28p for each kWh of electricity you use. Below we’ll look at running costs right now as well as what they will be from 1 October. 

Running costs for a vented tumble dryer

An 8kg example vented tumble dryer uses an average 5.85kWh of electricity on each use, which is around 585kWh each year. So until 30 September, this means average running costs for this type of dryer will be £1.64 per use or £163.80 per year. But from 1 October, you can expect to pay roughly £1.99 per use or £198.90 per year

Running costs for a condenser tumble dryer

An 8kg example of a condenser tumble dryer uses 5.6kWh of electricity for a standard cycle and roughly 560kWh per year. Until 30 September, this works out as £1.57 per use or £156.80 per year. From 1st October, this will rise to £1.90 per use or £190.40.

Heat pump tumble dryer running costs

An 8kg example of a heat pump tumble dryer, uses 2.18kWh of electricity for each standard cycle, and roughly 270kWh per year. Right now, this means just 61p per use and £75.60 per year. But when the prices go up on 1st October, this will mean 74p per use or £91.80 per year

Per use (from 1 October)Per year (from 1 October)
Condenser tumble dryer£1.90£190.40
Vented tumble dryer£1.99£198.90
Heat pump tumble dryer74p£91.80

Which tumble dryer is the cheapest to run?

The cheapest type of tumble dryer to run is a heat pump tumble dryer, costing around 54% less to run than a vented or condenser version. 

Which.com says: "For all of their indisputable energy-saving claims, heat pump tumble dryers can be expensive appliances to buy. You can pick up an affordable heat pump dryer for around £350, but most cost more than £550 and top of the range models can be more than £1,000. 

"However, they do cost significantly less to run than conventional condenser dryers or vented models, and over time the savings made in reduced energy costs will more than offset the higher purchase price."

Household appliance running costs Oct 2022

(Image credit: Future)

What affects how much a tumble dryer costs to run?

It is not just the type of tumble dryers that will affect the cost of running, you also need to consider the model's energy rating. All household appliances come with energy ratings of A+++ all the way down to G, with an A+++ rating being the most energy efficient, and a G rated appliance being the least energy efficient. 

AO.com’s Heated Laundry expert Naeem Adam (opens in new tab) says: “If you’re shopping for a new tumble dryer, a heat pump tumble dryer will drastically reduce your energy bills as it uses up to 50% less energy than a condenser or vented model.

“Otherwise, check the energy rating of the tumble dryer before you purchase it. A+++ are most efficient meaning they will cost you the least amount of money to run.”

In its guide to buying efficient home appliances (opens in new tab), the Energy Saving Trust estimates that buying a highest-rated A+++ tumble dryer can save you approximately £455 a year over an A-rated one. 

What features should you look for when buying a tumble dryer?

Sensor drying

Most tumble dryers now have a sensor drying feature. This works out how long your clothes need to dry and will turn off the dryer when the clothes are dry, rather than continuing to the end of the cycle unnecessarily. 

Lower temperatures

While it is tempting to whack the tumble dryer up to its highest heat setting and get your washing done, drying on lower temperature settings will use less energy while also protecting your clothes.

Auto-cleaning

Cleaning out the tumble dryer is not always the most pleasant of tasks but it is sure to keep it running efficiently. A tumble dryer with an auto-cleaning feature not only does the job for you, but it likely does a better job than you. This feature uses water collected during the drying phase to clean away fluff  at the end of each cycle, so you're not using any additional energy to keep the dryer in great condition. 

How can you reduce the cost of running a tumble dryer? 

The best way to reduce the running costs of your tumble dryer is to use it less often. You could reduce the number of washes you do each week, which will in turn reduce how often you need to use your tumble dryer. Or, if you can’t reduce how often you put the washing on, then you could, try to dry clothes using a clothes horse or a radiator (or on mild, dry days, you could still dry them outside on a washing line).  

But there are other hacks that can help you avoid wasting energy when it comes to your tumble dryer. 

Avoid light loads

If you do need to use your tumble dryer, make sure you are drying a full load. It’ll use the same amount of energy to dry a smaller load as a larger one. But careful you don’t overfill the dryer as this means clothes will take longer to dry and might still be damp when the cycle ends.  

Untangle your clothes

Before putting the laundry in your tumble dryer give each item a shake to smooth out any crumples so they can tumble effectively in the drum. Especially keep an eye on balled up socks - they might feel dry when they come out, but you’ll notice their still damp once they are un-balled.  

Try tumble dryer balls

Not only can tumble dryer balls help to soften laundry, they can also help to reduce drying times by up to 25%. Throw them in with your laundry and they will help lift and separate the laundry through the drying process, allowing the hot air to flow more efficiently and dry your clothes quicker. You can buy a pack of six from Amazon for less than £8 (opens in new tab).  

Maintenance is key

Making sure your dryer is well maintained will also help keep costs down. This means keeping it free of dust and lint which can clog up the filter and extend drying times. 

AO.com (opens in new tab) expert, Naeem Adam, says: “Remove the lint filter regularly to clean it so your tumble dryer doesn’t need to work as hard. Check your manufacturer’s instructions as to whether you can use a bit of warm water to clean your filter. Use a vacuum cleaner with a narrow attachment to get up any last bits of lint.

“If you have a vented tumble dryer, check your vent, too. Unplug the vent hose and check it over to make sure it’s all in good working order. Replace the hose if you find any signs of damage.” 

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