How much does it cost to run a tumble dryer after the April price cap rise?

We've done the calculations and have found ways to cut your energy usage

A tumble dryer is a total lifesaver if you have multiple loads of washing to do every week and limited drying space. Around 60% of us have one in the UK, but how much does it cost to run a tumble dryer?

Depending on what kind you have, tumble dryers can be expensive to use. Especially if yours is often working overtime to help you keep on top of your household’s laundry.

Installing a smart meter will allow you to monitor the cost of running your tumble dryer easily. But if not, we’ve worked out how much you can expect to spend each cycle – plus, we've found some clever ways to reduce your energy usage.

How much does it cost to run a tumble dryer?

According to the Energy Saving Trust (opens in new tab)’s latest figures from April 2022, the national average price per pence/kWh of electricity is 28.3. Following the energy price cap rise announced by Ofgem, this is 40% higher than it was in November 2021, when it was 20.33p per kWh. We have rounded the 28.3 figure to 28 for illustration purposes.

There are three types of tumble dryer – 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 £1.50 per cycle and £178.08 per year on average. In November 2021, it was £1.07 per cycle to run and £127.20 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 £1.46 per cycle and £172.76 annually – that's almost as much as a vented model. In November, pre-April price cap hike, it was £1.04 per cycle, equating to £123.40 a year.
  • 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 60p per cycle and £72.52 per year. Based on the November figures, this used to be 43p per cycle and only £51.80 a year to run it.

laundry room with tumble dryer covered by curtain

(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 Uswitch.com (opens in new tab). ‘Drying three loads a week in your tumble dryer will cost you about £223 a year, whereas putting it on the washing line is free.'

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. This means they 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 (opens in new tab) 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, Whirlpool’s Category Manager for Laundry in the UK & Ireland about how much it costs 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 Garner. ‘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 Garner. ‘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?

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. Wipe it down regularly with white vinegar and a cloth. Our guide to how to clean a tumble dryer explains more.

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.

Millie Hurst is Senior Content Editor at Ideal Home. She first joined the team at the start of 2021. Previously, she worked in women’s lifestyle and homes news, writing about everything from budget kitchen makeovers and gardening tips to homeware dupes and cleaning hacks. Millie can often be found looking up trending terms, spotting news stories our readers need to know about and finding ways to decorate her rented flat.