If you are like the average family in the United States, then you will be doing about 400 loads of laundry every year. That breaks down to about seven loads per week. When there are kids in the picture, that number can easily reach 1,000 loads annually. When you wash all of those clothes, then there is a need to dry them. If you aren’t hanging them outside on a clothesline, then about 8% of your utility costs can be attributed to your dryer.
There are two design options available for dryers today: gas and electric. Many homeowners choose the style that matches the setup of their home. If you only have a gas connection, then you’d purchase a gas dryer – and so forth. When you have the option for both, then comparing these two energy sources becomes important because one will be cheaper than the other.
At the end of the day, all dryers operate in the same way. They tumble clothes in a drum with heat to remove moisture. When you look at the pros and cons of gas vs. electric dryers, it is the method of heat production combined with the cost of energy access that can help you to determine which choice makes the most sense for your family’s needs.
List of the Gas vs. Electric Dryers Pros
1. Gas dryers use less in utility costs.
When you start comparing gas dryers with electric models, then you need to look at what the overall cost per load happens to be. If you are using electricity to dry your clothes, then you will spend up to $0.41 per load to get the results that you want. When you have a natural gas connection in your home, then you might spend up to $0.33 per load with each dryer cycle. If you compare the minimal cost of gas to the maximum cost of electricity, homeowners can save about $0.25 per cycle. Then multiply that by 400 to see what your savings can be.
2. Gas dryers reduce energy waste.
The primary reason why gas dryers are cheaper to operate is because they create instant heat thanks to their fuel source. Each appliance offers a burner that heats instantly, ensuring that there is minimal energy waste when you start a load. Electric dryers use a coil that can take some time to heat up, which means homeowners are spending more on a resource that will not provide them with an immediate benefit. Some electric dryers can take twice as long to dry a load of laundry compared to gas models for this very reason.
3. Gas dryers reduce the risk of damage to your garments.
Any dryer can cause damage to your clothing if the heat setting is too high for the materials you are attempting to dry. Where gas dryers have a benefit is in the fact that you do not need to tumble the clothing as much to achieve dryness. Since an electric dryer requires double the revolutions on average, there are fewer opportunities for the material to snag, release lint, or experience other forms of damage during this process. From a long-term perspective, that might mean you spend less on replacing clothing throughout the year too.
4. Gas dryers don’t charge extra for your plug.
When you purchase an electric dryer, the price that you are quoted does not always include the cost of the plug. Because there are three-prong and four-prong models available, it is up to you to determine which model fits the structure of your property. Both options are 125/250v because dryers require more power than a regular 110v outlet provides if you choose electric.
When you choose a gas dryer, then you can plug the appliance into a standard 110v outlet because the heat is provided by the natural gas instead of the electricity. Although you will need a gas appliance to be professionally installed in most circumstances, the dryer is just as safe to use with natural gas as it would be with electricity.
5. Gas dryers operate with moisture sensors.
Most gas dryers come equipped with a moisture sensor that monitors how fast your clothes are drying. When there isn’t as much dampness present, then the appliance can adjust the drying time accordingly to ensure as little energy waste occurs as possible. That means you aren’t over-drying your clothes accidentally as you save energy, which prevents colors from fading, elasticity reduction, and increased general wear and tear.
6. Gas dryers have similar installation costs if new electric lines are necessary.
Gas dryers operate on a 110v structure, so you can plug it into virtually any outlet in your home to have the appliance work with your natural gas line. Although the cost to reroute a gas line to your home can be expensive, the cost is actually comparable to what it would be if you needed to add a 125/250v circuit to your home for an electric dryer to operate correctly. You’ll pay about $400 per line (depending on your location), so even if you do need to reroute something, natural gas still might be cheaper in the long run.
7. Gas dryers do not offer an issue with grounding like some electric models.
Electric dryers use 3-slot or 4-slot plugs depending on when a home was constructed. Buildings before 2000 (and appliances) use 2 hot slots and 1 neutral ground slot. Newer receptacles for dryers separate the neutral and ground slot. You can change the dryer cord to match, but that comes with a unique hazard to consider. If you do not ground the appliance correctly, there is a small but dangerous risk that you could electrify the exterior of the unit. Touching it while it was operating could deal a significant electrical shock. Gas dryers do not come with this risk at all.
List of the Gas vs. Electric Dryers Cons
1. Electric dryers cost less to operate.
For the average household you will pay less per load of laundry that you do with an electric dryer compared to a gas model. That is because the overall cost of the appliance is lower more than the actual utility costs that you will pay. Natural gas costs are usually less than electricity for the average homeowners, so you would want to calculate the capital difference to see if you could make up the cost. If you are only doing 400 loads per year, the savings doesn’t quite make it to the end of life for the dryer.
2. Electric dryers offer several different models.
You can find everything from entry-level models with one heat setting to compact units that are perfect for apartments when you opt for the electric dryer. There are also premium appliances that will dry your clothes quickly thanks to the coil that gets heated as the drum turns. Since both models use electric motors to create the turn and fans to distribute the heat, you will find that the features available from a user standpoint with electric models tends to be superior to what you will find on the gas versions.
3. Electric dryers can install almost anywhere.
You can place an electric dryer in almost any location in your home thanks to the versatility of its design. Because you can swap out the power cord depending if you have a three-prong or four-prong outlet, there are multiple choices available in garages, laundry rooms, or other dedicated spaces for the home. It requires minimal equipment to install an electric dryer as well. Once you position the appliance to where it needs to be, all you must do is attach the vent and plug it in. Then you’re ready to start drying clothes.
4. Electric dryers do not require a utility hookup to operate.
If you want to use a gas dryer in your home, then there must be a natural gas hookup in your neighborhood that can be routed to your home. Should this not be available, the utility company would charge you to add this feature, and then require an additional fee to create a secure connection that you can use without the threat of a detonation.
Although the final price is going to vary based on where you live, a simple connection to an existing pipe will be an average of about $65 plus the cost of parts. Best Buy charges $139.99 for this service, but the price does not include the cost of a new gas line connection kit or a dryer vent kit. You cannot use foil or plastic with gas as you can with an electric model. You might also face a fee of up to $700 to reroute a gas line so that you can install the appliance in the first place.
5. Electric dryers are typically cheaper and easier to repair.
If something happens to your gas dryer, then you will need to hire a professional technician to handle the issue since they are managing the connection to the energy source in addition to the problem with your appliance. When you own an electric dryer to manage your laundry, then all you need to do is unplug the unit to begin the repair process. Most homeowners can repair minor issues with this appliance when they own an electric model.
6. Electric dryers do not require vents.
If you have limited space in your home for a dryer, then an electric model is almost always going to be your only choice. The same principle holds true for houses where there is no room for a vent. You must have a vent installed with a gas dryer for it to meet building code requirements. That worry disappears when you choose an electric model. Electrical dryers do not produce carbon monoxide during use in the same way that gas models could. You will want to have a CO alarm installed by your dryer upon installation.
Although heavy laundry users might save some money in the long run by choosing a gas dryer, the flexibility of your installation points can often be a significant advantage when comparing the energy sources for these two appliances.
7. Electric dryers only require one energy resource.
If you decide to purchase a gas dryer, then you must have a place to plug it in and have a spot for the natural gas connection. Even though the gas appliance can plug into any standard receptacle, your utility placement will dictate where the unit goes. That can often mean you’re working in the garage, where the dryer must work harder to stay warm while requiring electrical and natural gas access to operate. Electrical models only require a specific outlet that is similar to what a stove plugs into because of its requirements. It may use a little more energy, but it only needs one resource to function.
8. Electric dryers are easier to move.
If you do not plan to stay in your current home for an extended time, then an electrical dryer is almost always your best option. When you have a gas dryer, then you must pay someone to come out to disconnect the unit from the utility. Then you need to pay them to hook up the dryer at your next home. When you have an electric dryer that is being used for your laundry, you can just unplug it, and then load it up on the moving truck. That setup makes it much less of a headache when there are changes that need to be made in your life in the next couple of years.
A Final Thought on the Pros and Cons of Gas vs. Electric Dryers
Gas dryers are typically about $100 to $200 more than a premium electric model. If money is tight and you want to do laundry at home, spending $300 for a fully function electric dryer compared to $500 for an entry-level gas model is a significant difference.
Both models face ongoing maintenance costs to take advantage of their benefits. You should keep the appliance in a heated space whenever possible. Clean the lint filter regularly to improve air flow in the dryer too, as this can help to prevent fires. If you are using dryer sheets, then scrub the lint filter about once per month with a toothbrush to prevent a film from developing over the filter.
Then dry only full loads to ensure that you can maximize the energy efficiencies of the appliance. It helps to dry at least 2+ loads consecutively because this allows you to take advantage of the retained heat in the dryer. If your model has an outside vent, then check it periodically to ensure that outside air is not leaking in.
The pros and cons of gas dryers vs. electric dryers often depend on the presence of a natural gas line in your home. If you do not have one, then your best option will almost always be an electric dryer. When you purchase a property that does have a utility connection, then you can choose either type based on the key points noted above. At that stage, the capital costs combined with your venting options will become the critical points to review to ensure that your appliance can meet the needs of your home.
Natalie Regoli, Esq. is the author of this post and the editor-in-chief of our blog. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington and her Masters in Law from The University of Texas School of Law. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Natalie has almost two decades of experience as a lawyer and banker. If you would like to reach out to contact Natalie, then go here to send her a message.