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The first Energy Star clothes dryer?

The Department of Energy doesn’t even bother to rate clothes dryer under its ENERGY STAR program because the models on the market differ little in their energy use. That could change soon.

The DryerMiser system uses hot fluid and a heat exchanger to warm the dryer, rather than natural gas or an electric heating element. According to Hydromatic Technologies Corporation, the inventor of the technology, DrierMiser cuts drying time by 41% and energy consumption by 50%.

The system isn’t yet commercially available, so real-world performance remains unknown. Presumably most users will heat the fluid using their boilers, but if you have a solar hot water heater on your roof, DryerMiser holds out the tantalizing possibility of truly carbon-free drying. The system works by warming a non-toxic fluid with an immersion heater, and then passing the fluid through a heat exchanger to warm the air in the dryer.

According to the company’s amusingly kitschy web site (NASA technology! Fields of sunflowers!), the system will first be available as a conversion kit that can be used to modify existing driers. They hope the kit will retail for $300, which should allow a relatively short payback period via reduced energy bills. After the fridge, the drier is most energy-hogging appliance in most people’s homes. Now all we need is a hydronic plasma TV…

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