What’s the cheapest way to dry clothes indoors?

Update 12th November 2018: We’re always looking to help save you money – so when found an even cheaper place to get the heated airer we recommend we quickly added it to this post.

TL;DR? Want to skip the explanation? Here you go: just get the recommendation for the cheapest way to dry clothes quickly.

As a busy family of five it seems as if our washing machine is constantly on.

If you’re looking to save money on your electricity bill you may like our post investigating:
Is it Worth Unplugging Electrical Goods Overnight? —

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’s too damp outside already and drying clothes indoors brings mould and other issues into play — plus space on radiators soon runs out.

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 — which we’ll share with you here to save you the effort!

What is the way to dry clothes indoors in winter?

Tumble dryer

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).

Make your tumble dryer more efficient using these tips:

  1. Make sure you always dry a full load of washing
  2. Regularly clean out the lint filter to keep it working to its best
  3. Keep the dryer in a well-ventilated spot to prevent it from over-heating
  4. Untangle the washing as you load the dryer – balled-up socks will take an age to dry!
  5. 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.Tumble 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 £169.99 – 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 £209 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 is the BEKO DHY7340W Heat Pump Tumble Dryer which costs £349 but has an A++ rating.

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 the 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)

Heated clothes airers (also know as heated clothes horses) have recently increased in popularity as they can be an efficient way of drying washing in the winter.

The Dry:Soon heated airer - a very cost-effective way to dry clothesThis 3-tier airer (from the brilliantly named Dry:Soon) is the classic model, costing £119.99 and costs 6p 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.

How to make your heated airer more efficient:

  1. 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)
  2. Always fill the airer to capacity to make the most cost-efficient use of the energy
  3. Use the timer function to ensure it turns itself off after 8 hours.clothes pegs on a washing line

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 £109.99 which is in the same ballpark as a new tumble drier.

According to the manufacturers, Meaco, it costs about 15 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 £1.20 per load, quite a lot more than the other two methods mentioned.


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
Cheapest new appliance £169.99
View this appliance
View this appliance
View this applicance
View this appliance
Cost per load £0.41 £0.23 £0.24 £1.20
Total cost for first year
(appliance + 312* loads of washing)
£297.91 £420.76 £194.87 £484.39

*The average UK family household, apparently, does 6-8 loads of washing per week. 6 x 52 = 312 loads per year.

Our recommendation

If buying any item from new to dry your clothes inside over winter then the most cost effective option is the heated airer.

This one from Lakeland is just £119.99 — and could save you over £100 in the first year versus a traditional vented tumble dryer.

A cover for your heated clothes airer makes drying your clothes even more cost-effectiveEven if you add in the heated airer cover (at ~£35) — 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 £143.98.

Only the Heat Pump dryer comes anywhere near in terms of cost per load.

Even then it would take ~20,000 wash-loads for it 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 £84.99 all the way up to the biggest size with a cover (in fetching blue!) for £157.98.

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.




6 thoughts on “What’s the cheapest way to dry clothes indoors?”

  1. “drying clothes indoors brings mould and other issues into play ”
    Then you recommend a heated drier? Where do you think all the water in the clothes goes?
    A vented tumble dryer will exhaust the moisture outside (along with all the heat, hence the high running costs)
    A condensing tumble dryer will remove the moisture in the air within the machine but heats up the rooms sir in the process (this may cause condensation problems).
    A heat pump dryer keeps the air within the machine and recirculates it whilst removing moisture (not exhausting heat from the machine-hence the energy efficiency). It effectively contains it’s own dehumidifier.
    A dehumidifier under a drying rack (preferably with a waterproof cover) and potentially with a humidistat to turn it off when the clothes are dry would also be a very efficient option.

    1. Hi Olie, thanks for your very informative comment. You are quite right in that we wrote this piece with money-saving in mind so we were judging the products on how much they cost to dry a load of washing rather than which was best to prevent damp in the home. If money is no object then certainly the two options you highlight are the best methods to dry clothes while maintaining a nice dry home, however for those looking to save money the more budget-conscious option may still be the heated airer but with the window cracked open!

  2. do you recommended a heat pump dryer or a Heated Airer in a “laundry” cupboard, with no vents to outside? Its bigger enough for a washing machine and a dryer.

    In theory i want to invest in a heat pump and have it for a long time, but I want it to be able to perform and not make damage to the conditions of the room i have it in , The room also has our electrics in it. Thanks G

    1. Hi Geoff, thanks for your comment (and reading the blog).

      First up, we’re not electricians so this is just our thoughts/advice. Always get a pro if you have concerns.

      From what you’ve said about your situation – and assuming you can afford it – heat pump dryers are a good solution, especially for spaces with no ventilation.

      Heated airers are terrific and great value but, without any way to help the moisture escape your ‘laundry’ could get very damp and if your electrics are in that cupboard too that sounds like a bad combination.

      Hope that helps!

  3. Hi, I thought I’d share our heat pump dryer experience. We have been using a Panasonic heat pump dryer for 5 years and it has developed a sensor fault 3 months after the warranty expired and we have decided to go back to a condenser dryer.
    The Panasonic does dry gently and if you put an item in that should not be tumble dried then it will survive, the big problem is that a normal load will need to be dried twice or even three times!
    Standard programme starts at 3 hours remaining and this will reduce in the first 5 mins once the sensors have checked the load. The time remaining will still take longer than stated and can sit at 40 mins remaining for 40 mins for most loads before the time starts to decrease. The clothes will still be damp and another run will complete in less than an hour. Towels without hanging on the washing line or airer first a few hours can take 4-5 runs at least in the dryer. Only a full load of light items or a half washing load or less will fully dry in one dryer run.
    We spin everything twice in our Miele washing machine as well and have done for years and never had to run the previous John Lewis condenser dryer more than once per load.
    The heat pump technology was new 5 years ago and there were not many reviews back then and when the JL dryer failed we thought we’d try the £699 Panasonic A++ rated dryer with a free 5 year warranty! It has had just the one call out for a new fan pack in 5 years and this dryer has been used a lot in that time, we are a family of six and average 15 loads of washing each week.
    We have bought a new Miele condenser as it has great reviews and our Miele washing machine has been very reliable and had just one part failure in 12 years. Reading reviews there are a number of people like ourselves who have had a heat pump dryer and the main issue reported is that you have to run it 2-3 times per load plus the extended drying times per run and most people have gone back to a condenser.

    1. Thanks Andy, what a terrific contribution – that’s really helpful to share so much first-hand experience, thank you.

      As we point out in the piece (seconded by your comments) the heat pump and condenser dryers are not cheap on initial outlay, so to hear that some need a couple of go’s to get things dry is obviously a concern. I’m sure other readers will find your comments extremely helpful too.

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