If you want the best deal, make sure you think about energy efficiency and running costs before you buy – or it could end up costing you more than you think…
Read on for the best tips for making an informed choice with your next dryer.
Explore this page to learn about:
- the Energy Rating Label on dryers
- calculating running costs
- which energy efficient features to look out for.
You can also check out the dryer FAQs and related resources, links and downloads.
Use the label!
You already know about the Energy Rating Label, it’s attached to every new dryer sold in every shop in Australia – but did you know there is a right and a wrong way to read it?
It’s easy to get it right, just make sure you use the star rating to compare dryers of the same size (capacity) so you’re comparing apples-with-apples. This is because the stars are about energy efficiency – and energy efficiency is always relative.
For example, if you take two similar dryers (same sized) and one uses less electricity to do the same job, it is more efficient – so it achieves a higher star rating.
Energy consumption (kWh)
So you’ve narrowed it down to two dryers and you want to pick the one that’s cheapest to run… but they’re not the same size. No problem, just skip the star rating and go straight to the energy consumption number, which is given in kWh.
The lower the number, the lower your running costs… easy! This number (and the star rating) is determined based on scientific testing under the Australian and NZ standard, every dryer model has to do it before it can be sold.
Of course how often you use a dryer in your home will be different to your neighbours – so your actual running costs will be different, but we can help you with that.
This is how much less it costs you – per load – to run a heat pump condenser dryer compared to a traditional vented model.
This is the typical lifetime of a dryer, how long people typically hold on to it before replacing – think of it as a long-term purchase decision.
This is how much more – over the product lifetime – it could cost to run a vented dryer a few times a week compared to a heat pump model.
Calculate your running costs
The rough way
Take the energy consumption number (the kWh) on the label and divide by 4 – easy!
This is because across Australia, the rates per kWh of electricity range from under 20c to over 30c, so roughly working with 25c (1/4 of a dollar) is just below the middle.
For example, if you are considering dryer with a label that says it uses 200 kWh per year – that translates to about $50 based on typical usage. If you’re a heavy user of a dryer, this could cost a lot more, which is why you should use the calculator.
The accurate way
Every household is different – so is how often people need to use their dryer. This is why you should use the Energy Rating Calculator to work out your running costs, based on your household’s usage and local electricity rates. You can also download the free app, or use the official calculator via a number of leading retailers’ websites.
It’s worth your while to do this before you buy. It’s quick and easy to find the models you’re considering and see just how much they will end up costing you – which will help you make an informed choice.
What does lifetime cost mean?
Lifetime cost is the purchase price of a dryer, plus 10 years of typical running costs.
Unlike TVs, computers and other types of tech, people aren’t quite so motivated to race out and buy a new dryer when a bigger, faster or more impressive model is released. When you think about it, how long did your old dryer last? Most people hold on to them for at least 10 years – and the energy costs (or savings) can really add up over that time.
This is why it’s worth your while to consider the lifetime cost of various models before you buy. Realistically, you will probably hold on to your new dryer for many, many years. That being said, you may want to think about your next dryer as a long-term investment – or expense!
It’s easy to work out your lifetime cost – and compare it to other models. Just use the Energy Rating Calculator, or download the free app from iTunes or Google Play.
Calculate and compare
What type of dryer should I buy?
The type of dryer that’s right for you depends on how often you’ll need to use it. If you want the best value dryer, then you should really think about your lifetime cost – not just the purchase price. Some types of dryers cost less upfront but cost a fortune to run each time – and vice versa.
Type of dryer
Running costs per year (weekly use)
Running costs per year (daily use)
Heat pump condenser
Running costs and star ratings are based on 7kg models listed on the registration database, using 28.55 c per kWh. Purchase price range is based on manufacturers RRP, with outliers removed.
This table is a rough guide – be a savvy shopper to find the best purchase price and use the Energy Rating Calculator or download the app (iTunes | Google Play) to work out your running costs based on the models you’re considering – and your usage patterns – before you buy.
If you rarely need to use a dryer (eg small household, warm climate year-round, occasional use), you may find a traditional dryer could suit your needs. They’re generally cheap to buy, though the downside is they’re much less efficient and cost you more to run that other types. With only occasional use, you may still find the lifetime cost (purchase price plus running costs) to be lower than other dryer types.
However, if you’re a heavy user (eg large household, cooler climate, daily use), you may find the investment in a more efficient condenser – or super-efficient heat pump condenser – a smarter choice. For some households, the extra spent upfront could pay itself off when you consider the savings on electricity bills for years to come.
To work out which is best for you and to compare models, use the Energy Rating Calculator or download the free app.
What is a traditional dryer?
Old-fashioned (traditional) dryers are vented, so they just pump the warm, moist air out the back in to your laundry. They don’t have a system to reuse any of the warm air, which is why you’ll notice the laundry heats up and your windows fog up when you put on a load.
These are the least efficient dryers on the market and most expensive to run – but generally the cheapest to buy upfront.
While more expensive to run, traditional dryers can still be a cost-effective choice for some households. For example if you have a small household and can dry your clothes outside on the line for most of the year, you’ll rarely need to use the dryer. This means your lifetime cost from buying a traditional dryer may end-up being pretty low – as they’re cheap upfront and the higher running costs won’t hurt the hip pocket so much if you rarely run it.
Before committing to a traditional dryer, make sure you do the sums first to see if it really is good value for you – or it could end up being an expensive choice. Use the Energy Rating Calculator or download the free app (iTunes | Google Play)
What is a heat pump dryer?
Super-efficient models use the latest technology to heat the air for the dryer – it’s called a heat pump condenser.
Traditional dryers use an element (like a bar heater) to heat air that dries the clothes and then the moisture laden air gets blown into your laundry or outside through a pipe or a vent. However, heat pump dryers are different because they do not vent the humid heated air but instead capture the heat energy in the air and recycle it. They also use a process separate water from the humid air and the captured water drips in to a tank which you regularly have to empty or, depending on the model, may run out a drain pipe.
This means heat pump driers use a lot less electricity and they end up being quite cheap to run.
Should I buy a heat pump dryer?
If your priority is just to reduce emissions – and upfront cost is not an issue – then heat pumps are probably for you, so yes!
However heat pump dryers generally cost a lot more to buy upfront, so if you are looking for the best value dryer to buy AND run, you should do the sums to see if a heat pump is right for you.
For example, a large household with adults and kids who average drying a 6 or 7 loads of washing every week could end up saving hundreds of dollars – each year – by investing in a heat pump dryer instead of a traditional one. Even when you consider heat pump dryers cost more to buy, the long term savings (for a heavy) user can far outweigh the extra upfront cost.
But there’s no need to take a punt on whether this is right for you – you can easily find out. Use the Energy Rating Calculator to work out the lifetime cost of the heat pump and traditional models you’re considering. This way you can browse for the models by brand and model number, punch in the purchase price, select how often you think you’ll use it and you’ll have your answer. The one with the lowest lifetime cost is probably the better buy!
Look for energy efficient features
The label is great for comparing the energy efficiency and running costs of different dryers, but some of the most innovative manufacturers have developed features that will save you even more. Keep an eye out for things that will save even more energy – and money.
The latest and greatest innovation in dryers is the heat pump condenser. These are generally so energy efficient they are in a class above, with an extra row of stars… they’re super-efficient!
Being the latest tech they tend to cost more upfront, however some households (especially large households) may find the extra cost upfront to be a smart investment – depending on how often it’s used. Use the Energy Rating Calculator to see if it adds up for you.
Unfortunately, not all dryers automatically turn off when the load is dry – some just work on a timer that you set manually. So for example, if you set it to 60 minutes, but your load is dry in just 30, then you’ve wasted 30 minutes-worth of electricity.
Sure, you can just keep checking the load to see if it’s dry yet, but that may not be convenient. Alternatively, just choose a model with auto sensing built in. They have a built in sensor that constantly monitors humidity (the moisture level in the load) so they know to switch off when your load is dry. It’s a simple but smart way to not waste electricity – and money.
Sometimes you don’t need (or want) the maximum heat to dry your clothes – sometimes you don’t mind waiting a bit longer for them to dry. Either way, many dryers have an eco, economy or low-heat setting which means it can use less electricity to do the job.
What does the number of stars mean?
The number of stars on the label helps you compare the efficiency of one clothes dryer to another of the same capacity. For example, a 5kg clothes dryer with 4 stars is more energy efficient than a 5kg model with 2 stars.
However number of stars can’t be used to compare clothes dryers of different capacities. This is because the calculation (the formula) to determine the star rating includes the capacity.
Are dryers with more stars more expensive?
Often, but not always. You’d be surprised how often you can find a slightly more efficient model for a similar price – sometimes even less. This is why you need to think about the star rating – because if you choose the less efficient one and it ends up costing you hundreds more to run, you’ll probably regret it.
However many top-of-the-line models use heat pump condenser technology which makes them super-efficient – and they cost a lot more to buy upfront. However as they become more common the prices are coming down – it pays to shop around as sometimes the extra investment upfront can pay itself off when you consider the long-term energy savings.
What is the most efficient dryer in Australia?
Most of the dryers you’ll see in shops have been 1 and 3 stars – however there are now super-efficient models with up to 10 stars.
You can use the online registration database to browse all models available – and sort the list by star rating or energy consumption. This way you can see what is the best dryer in Australia – when it comes to energy efficiency.
When not to use the star rating
If you compare a large dryer and another smaller one, the star rating won’t work for you. This is because the scientific testing (which is a legal requirement in Australia) conducted on every dryer model is based on a standardised process – which is drying a full load. It wouldn’t be fair to compare a dryer doing a 10 kg load with one doing 7 kg and say one is more efficient – because one’s had a bigger load to dry.
Who decides how many stars a dryer has?
Each model is given a star rating after undergoing scientific testing,
There is a mathematical formula to determine each model’s star rating. The formula considers a number of factors, including the capacity (kg) of the dryer and how much electricity a particular model used when scientifically tested according to the official Australian and New Zealand Standard.
Why do dryers need to be tested and given a star rating?
There is legislation that makes it mandatory every dryer undergoes this testing before it’s allowed to be sold in Australia. Because every dryer must be tested – and is tested according to a Standard – it means there is a level playing field for all manufacturers.
On top of this, if a dryer doesn’t meet the minimum standard for energy efficiency – it is prohibited from sale. This ensures grossly inefficient dryers do not find their way in to Australian homes, as they are deemed to use too much electricity – and add too much to people’s energy bills
Why is there a label?
The same legislation that makes the scientific tests mandatory also makes displaying the label in shops mandatory. This means people can make informed choices about the products they buy – if the label wasn’t mandatory, many people could inadvertently buy a product that ended up being too expensive to run – and get years of bill shock in the process!
Making the label mandatory also means anyone selling the least efficient registered models can’t just remove it in the shop to hide that fact. It’s in your interests!
Can I trust the Energy Rating Label?
Yes! We’ve got label, certification and endorsement overload when we’re shopping for whitegoods in Australia, so it’s good to question what’s what.
However the Energy Rating Label is one of the only ones that is required to be displayed by law and overseen by an Australian Government regulator. The scientific testing each model goes through before it can be sold is based on the official Australian and New Zealand Standard – to make sure there is a level playing field.
I’m buying a new dryer online, where’s the label?
Many online retailers list the star rating and energy consumption figures in the specifications section of the online dryer listings – and some also include an image of the label – or a condensed version of it with just the top section.
Displaying the label or energy efficiency information online isn’t mandatory at the moment, as it is in traditional bricks-and-mortar stores. This means the online retailers that volunteer this information are doing it for you – as a customer service – so you can make an informed choice.
If you are shopping online for a dryer and the seller has chosen not to show the label or provide energy efficiency information – be wary. The last thing you want is to think you’re getting a bargain only to find out your new dryer costs you a fortune to run. Even if the retailer doesn’t want to share this important information, you can still get a hold of it. Search the registration database, use the Energy Rating Calculator, or download the app to see the details of the specific models you are looking at. Every product registered in Australia is listed – so if you can’t find it there it may be offered for sale illegally.
What does size or capacity mean with a dryer?
The words ‘size’ and ‘capacity’ are used interchangeably when discussing clothes dryers. They relate to the weight of dry clothes – in kilograms (kg) – a particular model is rated to dry in one cycle.
For example, a 7 kg dryer can handle 7kg of dry clothes, a 10 kg dryer can handle 10 kg.
What size dryer should I buy?
To find the right size (capacity) dryer for your needs, think about how often you need to dry a load – and how big a load you need to dry at a time.
If it’s pretty rare you need to use the dryer and you’re in a small household, a smaller dryer may do the trick. However if you’re in a large household – or in in a cool climate and for much of the year you can’t dry outside on the line – consider a larger one.
How does a dryer work?
What all dryers have in common is they have a heating element inside and a fan to blow the hot air around, then they tumble the clothes around until they’re dry. What makes them different is what they do with the hot, moist air afterwards – which makes a huge difference when it comes to energy efficiency and your running costs.
Traditional dryers just pump the air out as a waste product. Whereas, more efficient condenser and super-efficient heat pump condenser dryers have an innovative system to reuse the hot air so all that heat doesn’t go to waste. They don’t need to keep using more and more electricity to generate more heat, because they don’t waste what they’ve already made. They need less electricity to do the job… so it costs you less to run
Calculations and assumptions
- 28.55c/kWh avg. Australian electricity rate)
- All registered heat pump condenser dryers (all sizes), 6 to 10 stars compared to all registered conventional, vented dryers, 1 to 4 stars, all sizes
- Running costs and star ratings are based on 7kg models listed on the registration database
- Purchase price ranges is based on manufacturers RRP, with outliers removed