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The Monthly Cost Difference Between Gas & Electric Dryers

Although the most economical way to dry clothes is to dry them outdoors, there are cost differences between operating a gas and electric clothes dryer. Gas dryers typically cost less than electric dryers to run. Yet both dryer types generally use the second most amount of energy of all household appliances behind refrigerators, according to the California Energy Commission’s website. If you’re in the market for a dryer, it’s a good idea to know how much it will cost per month to operate a gas and electric dryer, so you can factor that into the sale price.

General Information

A gas dryer costs about $50 more than an electric one.

The average clothes dryer, gas or electric, has an average life span of about 18 years. Over this period of time, you can expect to spend about $1,530 on energy to operate it, states the California Energy Commission’s website. On average, your dryer will cost you about $85 to run per year, and more depending on your usage.

Gas vs. Electric

Gas and electric dryers work virtually the same. Their main difference is how they heat. A gas clothes dryer uses gas to fuel a flame that heats a metal heat-supplying coil, whereas the metal coil is energized solely by electricity on an electric dryer. Both dryers use nearly the same amount of electricity to power their drums and tumble clothes; the main difference is the amount of electricity used for heat. You’ll spend about half as much per laundry load operating a gas dryer than you’ll spend on an electric one: 15 to 20 cents versus 30 to 40 cents, respectively, notes the California Energy Commission’s website.

Estimated Monthly Cost Differences

While gas and electricity costs can vary based on the region of the United States (U.S.) where you live and your power suppliers, you can estimate the average cost to use a gas and electric dryer for general price comparison purposes. For a single 45 minute drying cycle and assuming it cost 15 cents per kilowatt (kwh) of electricity and $1.25 per gas therm, you can expect to spend about 31 cents to operate a gas dryer, and 50 cents to run an electric dryer. Since the average household dries about 30 laundry loads per month, you’ll pay $9.30 per month for a gas dryer and $15 for an electric for an estimated difference of just less than $6 or about 62 percent less per month.

Installation Considerations

A gas dryer requires that you have a gas hook-up already in your laundry room. If you don’t have one, you’ll need to get one installed, which can be costly if your home isn’t already configured for gas and have a gas line. However, a gas dryer requires only a standard 120-volt electrical outlet to run. Conversely, an electric dryer requires a special electrical outlet. It uses about 240-volts of power--twice as much as a gas dryer. In certain cases, you might need to upgrade your standard outlet to one that can accommodate an electric dryer, otherwise you risk electrical shock.

About the Author

Christie Gross has been writing since 1998. Her work writing public policy platforms for elected officials nationwide has been featured in national and local newspapers under various client pen names. Gross has a Bachelor of Arts in English and political science, as well as a Master of Public Administration from the University of Delaware.

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