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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  1. Monty - January 14, 2009

    It sounds great, but color me skeptical. If it actually works and ALL I have to do is solar hot water panels to my roof to have carbon neutral drying, at least it is a reasonable option. (But the “ALL” was capitalized on purpose since very few people will do it.) But, something about their web site and the concept sounds awfully late-90′s dot-com to me.

  2. AB - January 14, 2009

    Before going to space age technology, maybe we could just have this year’s technology…
    European manufacturers already sell dryers with heat pumps that rate “A” on their energy efficiency scale, for example this one:
    http://www.siemensappliances.co.uk/?5=WT46W560GB&25=922
    There is apparently no market interest in North America.

  3. HJ - January 14, 2009

    A clothesline in the back yard/basement is not only carbon-neutral, it leaves your clothes smelling great (well, the back yard option), and there is no significant imbedded energy in the manufacture and distribution of the machine. I’m not saying that improving on the current dryers isn’t a good idea–it is, and there are always times and situations where clotheslines don’t work so well, but I hope we move toward more people using clotheslines as their first approach to clothes-drying, and energy-effecient dryers as a backup, perhaps mainly in apartment buildings and laundromats.

  4. AB - January 14, 2009

    Darn, I was going to say the same thing and I got sidetracked by shiny new technology!
    I have a 6-kilo European machine and a full load fits very well on 2 racks in my basement. I only use my dryer occasionally for duvet covers, for example.
    If you think about all the lint you get with every load, you must realize that a dryer is not gentle on your clothes.

  5. john and beth - January 14, 2009

    we use the sun and clothes pins. of course it does not freeze often in central texas. but it has no carbon footprint and costs nothing.

  6. BlueBoatHome - January 14, 2009

    I’d like to put in a word for front-loading washers as a way to reduce drying time and therefore energy expended… Our 2008 model front-loader gets the clothes so dry in the spin cycle that our dryer rarely runs more than 20 minutes… and the washer uses less electricity for a load than my percolator uses to make a pot of coffee!

  7. Adam Stein - January 14, 2009

    Monty, the company claims a 50% reduction in energy use without any solar water heaters. I was just mentioning solar water heaters as a nice complement to the technology.
    I agree the technology needs to see some real-world use before these claims can be substantiated. And the web site is quite cheesy. I wouldn’t hold this against them too greatly, though — they’re a group of engineers with a cool prototype and a patent, so I wouldn’t expect much of their marketing efforts at this point. The concept is straightforward enough and has potential, I think. We’ll see…

  8. david burton - January 14, 2009

    The article mentions that the most likely scenario would be to hook up your boiler. It is important to note that the majority of homes in the US don’t have boilers. I like the idea of the solar water heater, but what other options would folks have?

  9. Adam Stein - January 14, 2009

    Hm…did I goof? By boiler, I just meant whatever your home uses as a water heater. If there’s a more appopriate term to use, let me know and I’ll update the post.

  10. Russ in San Diego - January 14, 2009

    I think the idea of using a heat exchanger in the exhaust is the key novelty, and is such an obvious solution you have to wonder why it wasn’t done long ago.
    Using customer-provided hot water to supply the heating sounds like trouble, considering the long-term problems associated with possibly mineral-laden mains water going through narrow passages. I’d use a separate, low-corrosion and non-precipitating fluid for the heat exchanger, and just add that on to existing dryer designs. Actually, this sort of sounds like a heat pump to enhance the existing heating element’s efficiency.

  11. AB - January 14, 2009

    As I said earlier, dryer with heat pumps are readily available in Europe.

  12. Jackie - January 14, 2009

    Where I live – the rainy Pacific Northwest – there are lots of raindrops for at least half the year. Personally, in the thirty years I have lived here, I’ve never had a basement. So, a miserly or even (hurray!) a carbon neutral dryer is a great improvement!

  13. Adam Stein - January 14, 2009

    Russ, that’s what this system does: “Made of durable copper and aluminum, the Hydronic Dryer

  14. EJH - January 14, 2009

    As a newly certified installer of Sunmaxx Solar Thermal evacuated tubes and a owner of a waterfurnace geothermal heating, cooling and hot water system, I’m very curious about this type of clothes drying, unless I’m missing something, my guess is that this doesn’t use your furnace at all. I suspect it will use your orginal dryer gas or electric heating device to supplement heating if required. Otherwise, its an air source heat pump, using a earth friendly glycol. Does that mean it has a condensor outside??? I do wonder, if you could use a solar thermal system in conjuction with it????

  15. ejh - January 14, 2009

    Guess I should have called this company first, before I wrote my last passage. I was told that it is not an air source heat pump. It’s a closed “hydronic” system. Slightly confused as to how it works, but somehow it is taking heat out of a vessel with fluid in it. Anyway, at some point in the future it will be able to use some form of solar technology to assist the process. It also does not use the existing gas or electric heating system to offset any heat. I Can

  16. gmmt - January 16, 2009

    I started using a clothesline a couple of years ago and was pleasantly surprised by the obvious reduction in my electric bill. I only use my dryer when it rains for several days in a row or when I have to have something the next day – maybe 6 times in the past two years. I encourage anyone that can, to start using clothesline – it’s not bad exercise, it gets you outside in the fresh air, it saves you money and it’s energy efficient!

  17. Kevin_in_Denver - January 17, 2009

    Here’s a little more information about washing with cold water, and centrifugal drying of clothes:
    http://greenbuildingindenver.blogspot.com/2007/12/save-energy-washing-and-drying-clothes.html
    Indoor clotheslines are quite a lot easier than outside ones, we can always use more humidity.
    Has anyone ever tried an HRV on a dryer outlet in a closed laundry room?

  18. lightguy - January 21, 2009

    To Kevin in Denver:
    An HRV on a dryer vent is good in theory, but I would think that the lint that is present in the vented air would tend to be a problem, accumulating in the HRV and quickly reducing its efficiency. If you could find a good way to trap the lint you could have a viable option. Regular screen traps found in dryers do trap a large portion but not enough for this application.

  19. Woody - January 21, 2009

    A couple of emails to the company cleared up some of the confusion. This system uses 240V or 120V electricity to heat an element which is bathed in their heat transfer fluid. The heat is then transferred to the air circulating through your dryer & the clothes get dried. They chiefly claim that their system uses less wattage than regular dryers, saying that such high heat damages clothes.
    Hey, my dryer has an energy saving device that solves this problem! It’s called a “temperature control”. For many years my family has been drying clothes on the “Low” setting with great results; clothes last well & don’t shrink. We only use “High” for particularly heavy things like throw rugs.
    I’d say save your $300 for use where it will really make a difference like weatherizing your house and buying more CFL’s.

  20. Jacque Damon - February 25, 2009

    I gotta say the clothes line idea sounds all well and good for folks in warmer areas of the country but for people like me who live in Montana it’s only viable 3 months out of the yr if we are lucky, we have at one time or another had snow every month of the yr so when it’s -40 to -60 it’s impossible to use a clothes line and drying my clothes indoors won’t do much either since I live in a 670 SQ manufactured home with no places to hang clothes I bought a front loader a more energy efficient water heater always use the low energy setting on my dryer but still if I could have something more efficient to use those 9 months when a clothes line is worthless I’m all for it and even at 300.00 I could save some cash over the long term and keep Montana from using the vast amounts of coal we have and stick to our hydro dams and windmills.

  21. Dennis in Louisiana - July 4, 2009

    Why do dryer manufacturers not allow users to employ outside air for clothes drying? Simply turn a baffle in an air inlet and you are using hot, and often dry outside air that is further heated by the appliance and then vented to the outside (as usual). Seems that the flow rate is high enough that we should avoid sucking our expensive air-conditioned air (4-5 months of it in the Gulf South) into the dryer. That air is having to be replaced into the house by sucking outside air into the house around door and window seals. The few months of the year that we actually heat our homes, choose outside air or inside air depending on whether your home heating is more efficient than electric resistance heating. Or, am I really missing something?