A man looks into his heat pump dryer for clean clothes.
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Greener clothes care

The Heat Pump Dryer: A Game-Changer in Energy Efficiency and Savings

Daren Wang
/
December 18, 2023

While heat pump clothes dryers are popular appliances throughout Europe and Japan, they are rare in the United States. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), heat pump dryers constituted only about 1 percent of residential dryer sales last year.

Maybe that’s because Americans tend to be impatient, and heat pump clothes dryers run a little bit slower than conventional machines. But they are much more efficient, cheaper to operate, more gentle on clothes, and don’t require a vent. It’s well past time for these reliable machines to make inroads in the U.S., and with new federal incentives, enhanced performance, and an expanding array of models, the heat pump dryer is poised to revolutionize how Americans approach laundry.

Why Choose a Heat Pump Dryer?

The environmental and economic advantages of heat pump dryers are big news. The EPA reports that they can reduce energy consumption by an impressive 40 to 70 percent compared to conventional gas and electric-resistance models.

While the impact on a home's overall carbon emissions may be modest (about 4.5 percent of a home's electricity goes towards clothes drying), the lower operating costs of heat pump dryers translate to significant savings for families.

Operational savings can help offset the higher upfront costs of heat pump dryers, which are estimated to be approximately $300 to $400 more than their gas and electric-resistance counterparts. Various utilities and local programs across the U.S. offer incentives for adopting heat pump dryers, further sweetening the deal for environmentally conscious consumers. Energy.gov has a great resource for finding regional incentives available in your area to help you make the switch.

The federal rebate programs under the Inflation Reduction Act provide additional financial support. Low-income families can also receive a point-of-sale rebate of up to $840 for an ENERGY STAR heat pump dryer.

Understanding Heat Pump Dryer Technology

The key differentiator of heat pump dryers lies in their approach to generating heat. Unlike traditional dryers that rely on heating elements, heat pump dryers move heat rather than create it. Operating similarly to an inside-out refrigerator, these dryers use refrigerant to absorb warmth from the surrounding air and pump it into the tumbling chamber with the wet clothes. The heat pump then reabsorbs this warmth, condensing out the moisture in the process. That water is either sent down a hose into a drain, or collected into a receptacle which needs to be emptied after each load.

The absorbed heat is then redirected into the dryer drum, creating a continuous cycle until the load is dry—a sophisticated yet elegant thermodynamic feat.

What to Know Before Making the Switch

Heat pump dryers come with some notable differences compared to conventional models. The absence of a vent makes them suitable for renters or homeowners unwilling to puncture their home's exterior. While most full-size heat pump dryers require a 240-volt socket, some newer models can operate on a more convenient 120-volt plug. Those new models can be placed anywhere—in a closet or a pantry with an outlet.

Despite their efficiency, heat pump dryers may take longer to dry clothes due to their lower maximum temperature. However, advancements in technology have significantly improved their drying times, with typical cycles ranging from 37 to 70 minutes. But that lower temperature comes with advantages—clothes that aren’t subjected to the scorching temps of conventional dryers last longer and wear better.

A counterintuitive but popular feature in some heat pump clothes dryer is a steam function. At various points in the drying process, the unit will inject steam into the drying chamber in order to keep the clothes from wrinkling as they dry. Adding moisture to clothes you are trying to dry doesn’t make sense at first thought, but the process does make for the best possible condition for the final load.

Maintenance for heat pump dryers differs slightly, with lint collection handled by two traps—one emptied every cycle and a finer mesh cleared less frequently. Regular maintenance, including cleaning the finer mesh and checking for lint around the heat pump's condenser coils, ensures optimal performance. The absence of a vent also eliminates concerns about lint-clogged dryer vents catching fire.

The heat pump dryer is a big leap forward in energy efficiency and cost savings for American households. As awareness and incentives grow, these innovative appliances have the potential to redefine how the nation approaches laundry, offering a greener and more economical solution for the future.

Our Choices

Beko HPD24414W

If you are looking for space and energy efficiency, the Beko HPD24414W compact front-load dryer is the heat pump clothes dryer for you. Its ventless design allows installation anywhere, even under kitchen counters. Despite its small size, the dryer features 4.5 cubic feet of drum capacity and 15 customizable cycles, adapting to diverse laundry needs.

The Beko dryer excels in energy efficiency, earning the ENERGY STAR-Certified Most Efficient award in 2023. Its innovative features include a steam function utilizing condensation, eliminating the need for a water hookup. With HomeWhiz app connectivity, downloadable cycles, and an advanced filter system, it brings together the most advanced technology in a compact solution.

Efficient and practical, the Beko dryer effectively dries clothes across various cycles, it can go anywhere, allowing installation throughout the home without water or exhaust hookups. The appliance's forward-thinking features, such as a sturdy lint trap with a second filter, contribute to its standout performance.

In summary, the Beko HPD24414W combines innovation, efficiency, and practicality, redefining home appliances for a sustainable and technologically advanced future.

Bosch 500 Series WTW87NH1UC

The Bosch 500 Series Heat Pump Dryer is a compact, ventless option that looks great wherever you put it. Its versatility in installation—able to fit into various spaces without the need for external venting—makes it a standout option for interior bathrooms and laundry rooms.

One notable advantage is the dryer's aesthetically pleasing design, featuring a stainless door that adds a touch of sophistication to the simple white finish. While it may not seamlessly blend into a stainless-steel kitchen, its overall appeal is noteworthy.

The dryer's compact nature doesn't compromise on customization options, boasting an array of 12 pre-programmed cycles along with the flexibility to adjust heat and dryness levels.

The Bosch 500 Series Heat Pump Dryer stands out as a good choice for those in need of a compact, ventless solution, offering efficiency, customization, and an appealing design.

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