Is a Ventless Clothes Dryer a Reality?
Clothes dryers use an intense amount of energy. In fact, dryers use about 6% of all U.S. electricity and that number hasn’t been improving.
Plus, living here in the cold northeast like I do, it sure seems a shame to vent all that heated air outside, as conventional dryers do. Regular readers of my blog will remember that I made a dryer vent box which we only attach in the winter. It captures the heat (and the moisture) and uses it to warm the house. However, it becomes more of a lint-blowing steam engine than anything, and I am sure you will be shocked to hear that it is not very popular with my very patient wife (who gets to put up with a lot of my sustainability-related projects).
However, there is a relatively new technology called a condensing dryer (sometimes called a ventless dryer) which has become common in Europe and is becoming more available here in the States. It is based on a traditional heat pump, and does not require an external vent – the warmed air is kept in the house, and the water is collected in a tank.
I’ll admit I was a little apprehensive about buying this dryer, because it is not cheap, and it is kind of small – about 2/3 the external size of a regular dryer (although the capacity is the same). However, it is more efficient than a conventional dryer, using about half the electricity to do the same amount of drying. Plus, you get to keep the heat in the house. My wife has sent my heat capturing contraption to the recycle bin.
As usual with my appliance purchases, I bought mine at The Home Depot, and as usual it was a positive experience. You pick a delivery date on the calendar when you know you can be around, and they come in with the new equipment, and take the old one away (if you like). Here’s a picture:
So what’s the verdict? Everyone in the family loves this thing! It puts out a mild steady heat at floor level while it’s working, so even the dog, who has figured out it is good to lie in front of, is a fan. It does take about twice as long as a conventional dryer to complete a cycle, but it’s also much gentler on the clothes. About every other load of clothes you empty the water receiving tub (or you can even pipe it to your washer drain so you never have to empty it). And at least temporarily, I’m back in the good graces of my wife!!
Anyone else using a ventless dryer, or any other new appliance ideas we can try?