If you’re thinking of buying a new tumble dryer, you may have considered a vented dryer (where the hot and damp air from your laundry is vented outside) or a condenser tumble dryer (which condenses water and collects it in a tank).
However, there is another option available – a heat pump dryer.
Heat pump tumble dryers are much more economical to run, and are better for the environment due to their lower energy consumption, but they are often much more expensive to buy. So, are heat pump dryers really worth the initial cost?
How does a heat pump dryer work?
With a heat pump dryer, moisture is removed from clothes by heating the air in the drum, which is then passed through filters and partly cooled. This forms condensation which is stored in a collection tank, in the same way as a traditional condenser dryer. The air is still warm but is now dry, and is reused for the remainder of the drying cycle.
Because heat pump dryers reuse some of the heat leaving the machine’s drum, the amount of energy required to dry the load is greatly reduced.
The benefits of heat pump dryers
Heat pump dryers save more energy than even the most efficient vented or condenser tumble dryers, in many cases using half the amount of energy, which also means big savings on energy bills.
Which? magazine states that these savings can typically add up to around £35 a year, with the most efficient machines costing less than £25 a year to run compared to £77 for a standard condenser dryer.
Tumble dryers are known for guzzling electricity, so for those of us concerned about the environment, an energy-saving heat pump dryer may be a good option.
Heat pump dryers can also be much gentler on your laundry, with lower operating temperatures meaning softer clothes and less chance of fabrics shrinking.
The cons of heat pump dryers
One of the biggest drawbacks to heat pump dryers is the initial cost. The advanced technology increases the cost to the consumer, and although prices are coming down, you can expect to pay around £700 for a good quality appliance.
If you consider that you can buy an energy-efficient condenser dryer for around £350 less, the savings made on your electricity bill might not be worth it. UK Whitegoods points out that “life expectancy is usually about 5-10 years these days” for most appliances, but it could take 11 years before you save any money from running a heat pump dryer once you take the initial cost into consideration, so a heat pump dryer might not pay for itself in the long run.
Heat pump tumble dryers may save energy whilst drying laundry, but if you are concerned about the environmental impact of your machine, it’s also worth considering that the technology in heat pump dryers can require more energy to build, and also uses more materials and additional packaging.
One of the biggest drawbacks of a heat pump dryer is that they can take much longer to dry clothes due to lower operating temperatures. This isn’t ideal if you often need your laundry dry in a hurry!
Heat pump dryers can’t just be located in a garage or outbuilding, as most appliances will have a minimum operating room temperature of around 10 °C. Also, rooms that are too warm can be a problem too as cool, but not too cold air, is needed for condensing.
Heat pump dryers are certainly worth considering if helping the environment and saving energy bills are important to you.
However, due to the high initial cost of buying a heat pump dryer, they’re often best suited for households that do a lot of laundry (but don’t need it dried in a hurry), or for commercial use. It’s also best to look for a high-quality machine from a reliable brand, which is more likely to last over 10 years so you can recover the initial costs in reduced energy bills.