The average clothes dryer lasts eight to 12 years. If yours is approaching that age, or if you are noticing it is not drying as efficiently as it used to, you might consider a new one. Here are some thoughts.
Gas or electric?
Gas dryers may cost a little more up front ($100 or so) and may be more difficult to install if you do it yourself, but they cost less to operate and over the long term are generally the better buy. However, if you need to install a new gas line, that expense could erode all of the savings.
Standard dryers range from about 7.3 cubic feet to about 8.3 cubic feet. However, you can purchase compact units as small as 3.4 cubic feet and large dryers as large as 9.0 cubic feet. One general rule is your dryer should have twice the capacity as your washer. One or two people washing only light garments generally can get by with a compact unit.
Most dryers are less than 30 inches wide, from 25 to 30 inches deep, and 35-45 inches tall. If you have that much space plus a few inches on either side and in the back, you should be fine. If space is an issue, you can check out tall, narrow units that can fit in a closet, or a washer and dryer that can be “stacked.”
- Cycling. Dryers will have a number of preset cycles. Choose a dryer with the types of cycles you will need. More is not necessarily better. Also some dryers have a digital display for cycles, but these are not necessarily better.
- Delayed start mode. This allows you to delay the start of the cycle, and allows you, for example, to run the dryer at times when energy costs are lower. It also allows you to have the dryer finish when you are getting dressed, so you have fresh, warm clothes to put on.
- Hinge. You can choose to have the door open on the left or right. Hint: place the hinge on the side opposite your washer so the door won’t be in the way when moving clothes from the washer to the dryer.
- Steam cleaning. Steam cycles can remove light stains and odors. They also remove wrinkles, but not as well as a steam iron or dry cleaning.
- Drying rack. These are detachable racks that rest horizontally in the drum, enabling you to dry delicate items without having them tumble.
Some new models have moisture sensors that tell your dryer to shut down once clothes are dry. Other units have dual-temperature heating elements that heat and cool the dryer more efficiently.
Smart technology is coming to dryers. A few examples:
- Dryers that know when energy rates are the lowest, and turn on then.
- Dryers that will alert you when a cycle is complete, and even notify you of status during the cycle.
- Dryers that can order dryer sheets.
- Dryers that can download new cycles from the Internet.