How much does it cost to run a tumble dryer with the new energy price cap?

We've done the calculations to show you what it'll cost and have found ways to cut your energy usage

Utility room with flower stickers on washing machine
(Image credit: Future PLC)
Recent updates

This article has been updated to show the new cost to run based on the April 2024 Energy Price Cap. It has also been fact-checked and any out-of-date information removed. 

Having a tumble dryer makes life so much easier, particularly in the winter when clothes take longer to dry naturally. But the question of how much does it cost to run a tumble dryer is on everyone's lips.

About two-thirds of us have a tumble dryer in the UK, but many of us are trying to cut bills and save energy at home by limiting how much we use it. While in the summer line drying is an option for many, when temperatures drop, we'll likely need to use them more often. So how much does it cost to run a tumble dryer with the new April energy price cap? 

You can monitor the cost of running your dryer easily with a smart meter. If you don't have one, we’ve worked out how much you can expect to spend each cycle – plus, we've found some clever ways to reduce your energy consumption.

utility room shelving housing washing powder and tools

(Image credit: Future PLC / Dominic Blackmore)

How much does it cost to run a tumble dryer?

To accurately answer how much does it cost to run a tumble dryer, you first need to know how much you pay for your energy. As of April 2024, the average price per kWh of electricity will be 25p. This is the average unit price for dual fuel customers who pay by direct debit. 

This was a result of the rise in the energy price cap, announced by Ofgem. For context, the price was 34p in October 2022, before coming down to 30p in July 2023, and now it's down to 25p in April (rounded up to the nearest penny).

There are three types of tumble dryers – vented, condenser, and heat pump. Vented machines are often perceived as using more energy, although newer models include drying sensors that make them more efficient. The real difference comes from the more energy-efficient heat-pump tumble dryers. Here are the costs of running all three for comparison:

  • An example 9kg vented tumble dryer uses 5.34 kWh for a full load cycle and approx 636 kWh over a year (if you use your dryer around two times a week). This means that this vented tumble dryer costs £1.34 per cycle and £159 per year on average.
  • An example 9kg condenser tumble dryer uses 5.2 kWh for a full load and approx 617 kWh annually. This means a cost of £1.30 per cycle and £154.25 annually – that's almost as much as a vented model.
  • An example 9kg heat pump tumble dryer uses 2.16 kWh for a full load and 259 kWh per year. This means that you’ll be spending just 54p per cycle and £64.75 per year.

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(Image credit: Future PLC/Tim Young)

‘Tumble dryers are one of the most energy-intensive devices in the home, so it’s worth trying to avoid using it during the warmer months,’ says Justina Miltienyte, energy expert at

Are some tumble dryers cheaper to run than others?

Vented tumble dryers can be costly to run over an average year. They also may not be suitable for all homes as they’ll need to be placed near a wall or window so the moist air can be expelled.

Condenser dryers lift the moisture from the clothes and collect it in a container that sits inside the machine. Some will pump the water out through plumbing or you may need to empty the container. On average, they’re slightly more affordable to run than vented machines.

Heat pump tumble dryers work like a condenser dryer, collecting the moisture in a container, but they work more efficiently by re-heating the air that is passed through the drum (using a heat exchange system, not more electricity) and recirculating it. These heat pump models use less energy and are cheaper to run.

‘Don’t be afraid to ask a retailer to explain the technology within tumble dryers to decide which type is most suited to your household,’ says Kimberley Garner, Hotpoint brand manager. ‘You will find that vented models are usually the least expensive to buy while heat pump models tend to be the most expensive. However, your retailer will be able to explain how you will save money on your energy bills in the long run.’

corner of utility room with open shelving and appliances next to each other

(Image credit: Future Plc/Colin Poole)

We also asked Vivien Fodor, Category Manager for Laundry in the UK & Ireland, Whirlpool about how much does it cost to run a tumble dryer. Vivien recommends investing slightly more upfront and buying a heat pump dryer, which is more energy-efficient.

'In addition to the energy price cap, running costs vary depending on a handful of factors. Arguably the most important one is the energy rating of the appliance,' says Vivien. 'It’s important for manufacturers to create appliances that ensure efficient resource consumption, reducing running costs and in turn helping consumers to care for the environment.'

Vivien explains that due to the more advanced technology, heat pump dryers can cost more than vented and condenser models, but the savings in energy and care for clothes make up for the initial cost.

What energy-saving features should I look for when buying a tumble dryer?

If you're looking for ways to save energy at home, these tumble dryer tricks and features could be a good place to start.

1. Sensor drying

Many tumble dryers – even vented models – now feature sensor drying, which works out how long your clothes need to dry and stops when they’re ready. Not only does this help to cut bills, it’ll prevent damage to fibres so clothes look good for longer, and keep the tumble dryer working well.

2. Drying levels

‘Take the guesswork out of choosing drying times by selecting a dryness level,’ explains Kimberley from Hotpoint. ‘When sensors identify that the clothes have dried to the level required, the dryer automatically finishes.’ This is ideal if you only need bedsheets to be ‘iron dry’.

3. Lower temperatures

Many heat pump machines use lower temperatures to both protect your clothes and use less energy. Some also have drum movements to prevent clumping so warm air can circulate efficiently.

4. Autocleaning

‘This feature uses water collected during the drying phase to clean fluff from the condenser at the end of each cycle,’ says Kimberley from Hotpoint. ‘This ensures long-lasting performance and reliability, and also saves money and time.'

laundry room with tumble dryer washing machine and belfast sink

(Image credit: Ti-Media)

How can I cut the cost of running a tumble dryer?

One of the easiest ways to cut costs on a tumble dryer is simply not to use it. Consider using a heated clothes airer  or even the best dehumidifier instead. However, if you're not ready to stop using your dryer, then follow these tips...

1. Run it overnight

If you’re on a cheaper off-peak tariff, take advantage of your tumble dryer’s delay start feature and run it during the night.

2. Choose a higher spin speed on your washing machine

Wetter clothes take much longer to dry, meaning more work for your tumble dryer. Use a higher spin on your washing machine so there’s less water in your laundry before drying starts.

3. Loosen your load

If a load of laundry has clumped together in the washing machine, it's a good idea to loosen it before you put it in the tumble dryer. This means that warm air can circulate more easily between the layers of fabric, shortening drying times. Similarly, don’t overload the tumble dryer, and dry similar fabrics together.

4. Use tumble dryer balls

Pop these in the dryer with your load of wet laundry and they'll reduce drying time by helping hot air to circulate around your clothes. Wool dryer balls also soften laundry and reduce wrinkles.

5. Keep your drying sensor clean so it works accurately

You’ll find it in the drum, usually below the door opening, made from two strips of metal. The best method for how to clean a tumble dryer is to wipe it down regularly with white vinegar and a cloth.

6. Run a full load

Our example 9kg vented machine mentioned above uses 2.9 kWh for a half load, compared to 5.34 kWh for a full one.

7. Remove lint from the filter after every load

Lint restricts the airflow, making drying less efficient, so every cycle will cost more to run. If your machine is vented, make sure the wall vent is fluff-free too, and that there’s no kink in the hose.

Now you know the figures, you can factor them into your energy budget when you're planning how to dry your clothes this winter.

Rachel Ogden

Rachel Ogden is a freelance journalist with more than 20 years’ experience of writing, editing and sub-editing. Since 2007, she's worked exclusively in interiors, writing about everything from extending your home to kitchen worktops, flooring, storage and more. She specialises in product reviews, having reviews hundreds of small and large appliances and homeware. 

With contributions from