WITH energy bills going through the roof, many of us are cutting back on putting the heating on this winter.
But drying laundry indoors without the heating on can be a nightmare, especially as British homes can suffer from cold and damp.
Housing charity Shelter says a quarter of renters – more than two million people – have damp and mould in their homes.
Now that the weather is colder, it’s harder to dry washing outside.
This autumn has seen an explosion in sales for laundry drying devices such as heated airers and dehumidifiers, which claim to be a cheaper way to get clothes dry.
But do they work – and, more importantly, will they save you any money?
This week, Rosie Taylor puts the most popular drying devices to the test.
Central heating – the costliest to run
- 24kW boiler on full power
- Cost per hour: £2.47
- Time to dry full load: 10 hours
- Cost per load: £24.72
IT’S tempting to flick on the heating to get your washing dry — but how much does it cost?
Prices vary based on the weather, how cold your house is, the temperature on your thermostat, the power consumption and efficiency of your boiler, the temperature it is set to and how well your home retains heat.
But in the average home with gas-fired central heating and a 24kW boiler, it could cost £2.47 per hour to get the radiators up to the set temperature this winter.
Larger 35kW boilers cost around £3.61 per hour to fire the heating up, while a more eco-friendly 15kW boiler costs around £1.55 per hour.
Then the boiler will cycle between powering up and down to maintain the temperature.
So if your house is poorly insulated, you will pay more for having the heating on as someone in a well-insulated home.
If you’re only putting the heating on to get your laundry dry, the costs can soon escalate.
The Sun found putting clothes directly on radiators meant they dried in about two hours, but a full rack of clothes took about ten hours.
That means the average family could pay up to £24.72 per load or £1,360 per winter.
Drying laundry on radiators also adds moisture to the air, causing condensation which can lead to issues including mould.
- 5kW condenser tumble dryer
- Cost per hour: £1.70
- Time to dry full load: 2 hours
- Cost per load: £3.40
TUMBLE dryers have a reputation for costing a fortune — but we found they dried laundry quickly.
The average tumble dryer uses between 1.8 and 5kW of energy, meaning they cost between 61p and £1.70 per hour to run. You can find out how much yours uses by checking the label or manual.
They typically dry a full load in one to two hours, meaning even the most powerful tumble dryers cost around £3.40 per load — around a seventh of the cost of drying using central heating.
- Lakeland Dry:Soon 3-tier heated airer (£159.99) and cover (£42.99)
- Cost per hour: 10.2p
- Drying full load: 20 hrs*(*13hrs with cover)
- Cost per load: £2.04* (*£1.33 with cover)
HEATED electric airers have become so popular they are sold out in Lakeland and Currys. But do they work? We tested the Lakeland Dry:Soon 3-tier heated airer, £159.99, with and without its £42.99 cover.
Without the cover, the airer took around 20 hours to dry a full load of laundry. Although it only costs 10.2p per hour to run, the long drying time meant it cost about £2.04 per load. Two to three washes per week would cost around £112 over the winter.
But with the cover, the drying time nearly halved to about 13 hours – meaning it cost just £1.33 per load or £73 over a winter.
The cover also prevented condensation building up.
And as an added bonus it warmed the room, too.
- Black & Decker Ceramic Tower fan heater from Ryman (£99.99)
- Cost per hour: 74.8p
- Time to dry full load: 6.5 hours
- Cost per load: £4.86
A FAN heater helps dry laundry by blowing hot air at your washing — a bit like a giant hair dryer.
We tested the Black & Decker Ceramic Tower fan heater, £99.99 from Ryman.
On the highest heat setting, the fan heater dried the laundry it was facing in a few hours but we had to rotate the clothes regularly to ensure even drying. It took around six and a half hours to fully dry the whole load.
With a 2.2kW power consumption, the fan heater cost 75p per hour to run. But it dried laundry quickly, meaning each load cost around £4.86.
While that’s more than a tumble drier, it had the added bonus of making the room very warm. But we did need to crack open a window to get rid of the condensation.
- Lakeland Dry: Soon Drying Pod (£99.99)
- Cost per hour: 34p
- Time to dry full load: 10 hours
- Cost per load: £3.40
IF you don’t have the space or money for a tumble dryer, a drying pod can be a cheaper alternative for drying clothes quickly.
We tried the Lakeland Dry:Soon Drying Pod, £99.99, and found it dried around six to eight items on hangers in around two hours.
As it only costs 34p per hour to run, if you only used it to dry items you need urgently — such as work or school uniforms — it would be five times cheaper than using a tumble dryer.
But to get through a whole load of washing, you’d need to put it on for two hours about five times. That would cost about £3.40 — around the same price as a tumble dryer.
Over a winter, using the pod as the only way to dry all your laundry would cost around £187.
Dehumidifier – cheapest to run
- MeacoDry Arete One 20L dehumidifier (£259.99)
- Cost per hour: 8.5p
- Time to dry full load: 12 hours
- Cost per load: £1.02
A DECENT dehumidifier can be expensive to buy but relatively cheap to run.
We tested the MeacoDry Arete One 20L dehumidifier, which costs £259.99. It has a six-hour “Smart Laundry” cycle for drying washing.
We needed to use two cycles for our full load, but it was all dry in 12 hours without the need for any heaters.
Costing just 8.5p per hour to run, this meant a big load dried for just £1.02.
Over winter, drying two to three loads per week would cost you £56 in total. Using it every day would cost you around £154.
Even once you factor in the high initial cost of buying the dehumidifier, this is roughly a 77 per cent saving on using the central heating to dry clothes.
The downside is it doesn’t provide any warmth for your home. It also isn’t suitable to use in very small rooms (less than 2m by 2m) or in rooms with an ignition source, such as a kitchen with a gas hob.
HOW WE DID THE TESTS
WE timed how long it took to dry a full machine load of washing using each device and calculated how long it took to dry and how much each device cost to run.
We based the cost on doing two to three loads per week, between November and March.
Work out your running costs at sust-it.net.