Update 26th April 2020: We’re always looking to help save you money – so when found an clothes drying gadget and an even cheaper place to get the heated airer we recommend we quickly added them to this post.
TL;DR? Want to skip the explanation? Here you go: just get the recommendation for the cheapest way to dry clothes indoors.
Less worried about cost but in a hurry? Check out our practical guide to how to dry clothes quickly.
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As a busy family of five it seems as if our washing machine is constantly on.
That’s not a problem in the summer as we can hang the clothes outside to dry, or blast them in our over-hot conservatory.
But in the winter drying clothes quickly becomes more difficult. It leaves us wondering how to dry clothes indoors.
It’s too damp outside already and drying clothes indoors brings mould and other issues into play — plus space on radiators soon runs out. If you live in a small apartment or flat you may not have access to any outdoor space anyway.
For the last few years we have had an ancient tumble drier (that was left in the house when we bought it) which has proved invaluable in getting the washing dried quickly.
But it recently gave up the ghost and I got to thinking: is it cost-efficient (or good for the planet) to replace it?
So off I went to do the research and find the best drying solutions — which we’ll share with you here to save you the effort!
What is the best way to dry clothes indoors in winter?
According to Which? a modern, efficient tumble drier will cost around £23 a year to run whereas an older model might cost more like £140. On average then a tumble dryer likely costs about £67 a year to run.
Investing in the most modern and energy efficient dryer is probably worth it, as although it might be an increased initial outlay the running costs will pay off over time.
So tip number one: buy the most efficient model your budget allows (look for one rated A+++ with a heat-pump condenser — more on why shortly).
How to make your tumble dryer more efficient
- Make sure you always dry a full load of washing
- Regularly clean out the lint filter to keep it working to its best
- Keep the dryer in a well-ventilated spot to prevent it from over-heating
- Untangle the washing as you load the dryer – balled-up socks will take an age to dry!
- Give your wash an extra spin in the washing machine to make sure it is as dry as possible before loading it into the dryer.
There are three main types of tumble dryer:
Vented tumble dryers
These work with the dryer using hot air to dry the clothes and requires a hose to expel the air out of a window or hole in an exterior wall. Vented tumble dryers are usually cheaper but less efficient than the more expensive heat pump or condensers dryers.
To give an example the cheapest vented dryer sold by Currys PC World is the LOGIK LVD7W18 7 kg Vented Tumble which, at time of writing, costs £149.99 – however note the energy efficiency rating is only C.
There are lower-priced vented dryers available – but these have a much lower capacity (up to half the ‘standard’ load) so, to ensure we’re comparing like-for-like as much as possible, we’ve gone for 7-8kg load minimum.
Condenser tumble dryers
Neither these nor the heat pump dryers need a vent to expel the air so they can be installed in any room in the house. Instead the water from the clothes is collected in a tray that needs to be regularly emptied and poured away.
The cheapest condenser dryer is the HOTPOINT First Edition FETC70BP Condenser Tumble Dryer which costs £219 and has an energy rating B.
Again, this is the cheapest condenser dryer around – but Currys do have a neat price-match policy, which can save you a few quid (and the time spent shopping around too).
Simply click and highlight the name of the machine you’re shopping for (as if you were going to copy + paste it into Google to shop around) and the price match of major competitors pops up for you!
Heat pump tumble dryers
Heat pump dryers work by recycling the hot air created to dry clothes. This does make them more efficient in terms of using less energy but it does mean they often have to run for longer (slightly less energy efficient – though not much for most models) but it is worth bearing in mind if time is of the essence for you.
The cheapest heat-pump dryer stocked by Currys BEKO DTBP8001W 8 kg Heat Pump Tumble Dryer which costs £308.98 and has an A+ rating.
However, Heat Pump dryers can be dear. Top of the range in this area can set you back over £1,000.
If you had bought a new vented tumble dryer, with an energy rating of C, it would cost about £67 a year to run. Compare this to an A++ heat-pump dryer: which costs £23 a year to run.
In this example the heat pump dryer is £179 more than the vented dryer to buy new, but is £44 a year more expensive to run so it would take just over 4 years for the machine to start saving you money.
This handy table created by confusedaboutenergy.co.uk indicates how much it costs to run an average tumble dryer depending on how often you use it:
|The annual running costs of a tumble dryer for different volumes of use. Based on an energy use of 2.50 kWh per cycle and an average load capacity of 4.75 kg (including CO2 emissions)|
|Cycles per week
|5x a week
|4x a week
|3x a week
|2x a week
|1x a week
If using the figures from the above table it reveals that to drying one load of washing in an average tumble dryer costs 41p a time.
The more energy efficient dryers (condensers and heat pumps) do use less energy (around 1.4kWh in the most efficient dryers) a reduction of around 44% on the energy cost.
Heated Airer (heated clothes horse)
If you don’t have the space (or finances) to invest in an electric dryer — there are lots of ways to dry clothes without a dryer.
Heated clothes airers (also known as heated clothes horses) have recently increased in popularity as they can be an efficient way of drying washing in the winter.
This 3-tier airer (from the brilliantly named Dry:Soon) is the classic model, costing around £100 and costs less than 4p an hour to run.
It can hold 15kg of washing which is nearly three times as much as fits in a standard tumble dryer. However, anecdotally most people report that it can comfortably hold two full washing machine loads.
Most people leave it on overnight when traditionally electricity is cheaper — though, depending on your local supplier, this usually isn’t the case any more.
So say you have it on for 8 hours overnight then that will cost 48 pence to dry two loads or 24 pence per load (as long as the airer is full) working out as cheaper than a tumble dryer which would costs 41p per load.
Do check out the full range of heated airers and bundle packages available — as there are some great offers on different sizes of airer with covers, castors (wheels to move your airer around), mesh shelves to add even more space etc.
Many are available on Amazon if you want to compare prices (see below) but in almost every case, it’s cheaper to get them directly from Lakeland.
How to make your heated airer more efficient:
- Use a cover such as this to keep heat in (or to save even more cash simply use a cotton duvet cover to do the same job)
- Always fill the airer to capacity to make the most cost-efficient use of the energy
- Use the timer function to ensure it turns itself off after 8 hours.
Dehumidifier + standard clothes airer
Another tactic for getting clothes dried inside is to hang them on a standard clothes airer next to a dehumidifier which sucks the moisture from the air and therefore out of the clothes.
This works best in a small room with the door and windows closed — so that the dehumidifier doesn’t have to work needlessly hard on drying the air outside the room or outside the house!
Drying wet washing inside can cause damp and mould which is not very hygienic. However using a dehumidifier can help to ensure your house (and clothes) stay nice and dry.
The cheapest dehumidifier at Currys is the the ESSENTIALS C10DH16 Dehumidifier which costs £99.99 which is in the same ballpark as a new tumble drier.
You can get a cheap ‘traditional’ airer from around £20, up to around £30-40 if you need a larger one for more space.
According to the dehumidifier manufacturers Meaco (who actually got in touch with us to correct our first go at the maths!) it costs about 3 pence an hour to run a similar product.
Like the heated airer most people leave it on overnight for 8 hours to dry a load of washing. This works out at just 24p per load – comparable to the heated airers.
Heated Air drying Pod
Starting at around £69.99 the price seems attractive too (they’re cheaper direct from Lakeland than from Amazon too).
Effectively, they’re like a giant, horizontal hairdryer – for your clothes.
Inside that odd-looking hot air balloon, is space to hang your clothes so they’re suspended over an electric fan which heats the air and gently blows it upwards through your hanging clothes. The cover means all the warmth (and moisture) stays in making them more efficient.
If you’re wondering if it sounds like an airship taking off, you’d be wrong. It’s pretty quiet considering (certainly quieter than your washing machine and no noisier than a tumble dryer).
And it can deal with delicates too. E.g. it won’t fry your frilly undies. It can dry thin items in around an hour – with a pair of jeans taking around two hours – if you want to dry clothes quickly this makes it a good option if you want a particular outfit dry for a night out etc.
And it costs just 15p an hour in electricity to run.
It’s affordable, effective and moderately quiet… so what’s the catch?
It’s the size. It can fit, maximum, around 12 garments in there.
That makes it a great option if you live alone (or if you’re looking for an option to dry your clothes in your flat or perhaps student accommodation) but for a family with one or more children? Not so much.
You’re going to need to run this at least twice to dry a load of washing – but it may be a handy option to have available if you need something dry in a hurry.
The most efficient tumble dryers are cheap to run (41p per load) but cost more in initial outlay c.£350 whereas a heated clothes airer costs less c.£134 and is cheaper to run at only 24p a load. Dehumidifiers are costly c.£180 and cost a lot more to run at £1.20 per load.
|Vented Tumble Dryer||Heat Pump Dryer||Heated Airer||Dehumidifier + airer||Heated air pod|
|Cheapest new appliance||£149.99||£349||£109.99||£119.98||£69.99|
|Cost per load||£0.41||£0.23||£0.24||£0.24||£0.90|
|Total cost for first year
(appliance + 312* loads of washing)
|Check prices||Check Prices||Check Prices||Check Prices||Check Prices||Check Prices|
*The average UK family household, apparently, does 6-8 loads of washing per week. 6 x 52 = 312 loads per year.
If buying any item from new to dry your clothes inside over winter then one of the most cost effective options is the heated airer.
This one from Lakeland is just £109.99 – and could save you over £100 in the first year versus a traditional vented tumble dryer.
Even if you add in the heated airer cover (at ~£44) – which would increase efficiency and reduce the ‘cost per load’ even further – it still comes out as the most cost effective option over the first year.
Especially if you buy this Lakeland bundle offer of airer + cover for £139.98 – saving an extra £10.
Only the Heat Pump dryer or the dehumidifier and traditional airer come anywhere near in terms of cost per load.
Even then it would take ~20,000 wash-loads for investing in a heat pump dryer to start to pay off (or over 60 years of washing for an average family!).
However, if you already own a tumble dryer, it is probably more cost-effective to continue using it rather than investing in a new airer.
We recommend you check out the full range of heated airers and bundle packages available.
There are smaller ones for as little as £99.99 all the way up to the biggest size with a cover (in fetching blue!) for £194.98.
Depending on how many loads of washing your household gets through in a week, there are some real cost-savings to have here.
Do tell us how you get on, leave us a comment below.
Last update on 2022-05-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API