First Energy Star dryer saves energy and money

Innovative Whirlpool Duet dryer first to earn energy-saving badge

Published: June 19, 2014 03:45 PM

It happened. The Whirlpool Duet WED87HED electric dryer is the first dryer to earn the Energy Star for efficiency. It’s in stores and costs $1,000. Consumer Reports’ laundry experts are buying it now and will let you know how it does in our tests. Dryers were the most energy-intensive appliances not covered by the Energy Star program. Here’s why it took so long and what it means to you and your pocketbook.
All of the front-loading washers and high-efficiency top-loaders in our washer Ratings are Energy Star-qualified. “With washers, manufacturers can manipulate wash time, hot water usage, and spin speeds for better extraction and still be able to deliver impressive wash performance with better energy and water efficiency,” says Emilio Gonzalez, the engineer who runs our tests of washers and dryers. “But with dryers there are fewer major variables to manipulate—mostly it’s drying time and the amount of heat provided.” That means low heat and longer drying times or shorter times and more heat.
To earn the Energy Star a dryer must use approximately 20 percent less energy on average than dryers that meet federal minimum efficiency standards for 2015. “On average” because actual savings depend on load size and cycle used. The Whirlpool Duet WED87HED uses new technologies to deliver improved energy efficiency, says Whirlpool’s Dick Conrad. They include advanced moisture sensors that are better at ending the cycle when the load is dry. This prevents overdrying, which wastes energy and is hard on fabrics. Another advancement, using the Ecoboost setting, is an improved method for turning the heaters on and off during the cycle depending on the load, which should optimize energy use. One thing to note: The Ecoboost setting is optional and Conrad estimates that it could extend drying time 20 to 25 minutes.
So what does this mean for you? The folks at Energy Star told us that you can expect to save about $18 a year in electricity costs with an Energy Star dryer. It doesn’t sound like much until you consider total savings could be about $217 over 12 years—more or less depending on what you pay for electricity—and that over 80 percent of U.S. homes have a dryer, according to the EPA. When our tests are complete, we’ll feature the results on our website. And if you’re shopping for a dryer now see our ratings of about 100 electric dryers and their gas versions too. Most of the dryers have moisture sensors, a great way to start saving energy right now.
 —Kimberly Janeway (@CRJaneway on twitter)

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