Heated airer or dehumidifier – what’s the best way to dry clothes indoors?

Dehumidifier to dry clothes indoors

Energy bills are high and drying clothes outside isn’t a great option in the autumn and winter months. We compare a heated airer and a dehumidifier to find the cheapest way to dry clothes indoors.

With high energy bills and the rising cost of living, many households are looking for cheap gas and electricityEspecially in the winter months, when you need heating the most, you also want to make sure that you don’t overspend on your heating bill. 

Air drying, despite being the cheapest – and free – alternative, can take hours or become impossible to do when the temperatures drop. So you need to move on to your next best bet.

You might be considering tumble dryers, a household staple. However, tumble dryers are one of the most expensive appliances to run in your home.

Heated airers and dehumidifiers are cheaper to use. But which one is the better choice? Here we put them head-to-head to discover the best way to dry your clothes indoors. 

Have a look at our energy-saving tips to use less gas and electricity at home. You can also try out our appliance calculator to find out how much your household appliances are adding to your energy bill. 

Heated airers

Heated airer

How much does a heated airer cost to run?

Last year, heated airers caused quite a stir, with everyone rushing to get one. They’re like clothes horses, but use power to heat the bars. Think of them as mini radiators for drying your clothes. 

The cost of running a heated airer can depend on several factors. This includes how powerful your heated airer is, what fabrics you dry and what cycle you put your washing machine on. 

It takes about three to eight hours for most heated airers to dry a full load of clothes. Heated airers come in different sizes, so here we’ve compared a two-tier and three-tier heated airer.

Note that this cost is if you use a heated airer three times a week and it takes five hours to dry a full load. The calculations are based on the new October price cap electricity rate of 27p per Kwh. 

Cost to run (per hour) Cost per use (five hours) Cost per week (three uses)
Two-tier heated airer 5.4p 27p £0.81
Three-tier heated airer 8.1p 41p £1.23

To give you an idea of the price of heated airers, the two-tier dryer is £75 to buy at Dunelm and the three-tier one is £95. 

How to efficiently use a heated airer

As you’ll see below, the good news is that heated air dryers are cheaper to run than a dehumidifier.

However, the bad news is that they have lower capacities and take longer to dry. So they won’t always be the cheapest option in the long run. 

These are some measures you can take to slash costs on your heated airer:

  • Reduce the time it takes for the clothes to dry. 
  • Make sure that your clothes have spun properly in the machine so that excess water gets removed. 
  • Move the clothes around that are drying every so often so that the heat reaches all areas of the garments.


How much does a dehumidifier cost to run?

There are two types of dehumidifiers: refrigerant and desiccant.

  • Refrigerant dehumidifier – Generally very energy-efficient and can extract high amounts of moisture very quickly. Best suited for warm conditions, but doesn’t work as well in colder temperatures. 
  • Desiccant dehumidifier – Better suited for cooler environments such as garages or conservatories. More lightweight but less energy-efficient. 

So if you’re drying clothes at home, a refrigerant dehumidifier is your best bet. 

When it comes to how much a refrigerant dehumidifier costs to run, we’ve crunched the numbers based on the new October price cap electricity rate of 27p per Kwh. This is based on a typical 250W dehumidifier. 

Energy used Cost to run (per hour) Cost per use (five hours) Cost per week (three uses)
250W 6.75p 33.75p £1.01

How long you need to leave the dehumidifier on depends on many things. They include the humidity and moisture levels in the room, temperature and how wet your clothes are.

To give you an idea of how much it costs to buy one from Argos, it costs £50 for a mini 0.5 litre dehumidifier, £145 for a 10 litre one, and £200 for a 16 litre one

How to efficiently use a dehumidifier

Here is how to get the most from your dehumidifier:

  • Opt for a compressor dehumidifier and clean the filter monthly with a fibre cloth, so it doesn’t get clogged up.
  • Do your research before buying. Things to look out for are a timer setting, energy usage, and average running costs.  
  • Keep it at least 20cm away from the wall, doors or windows. This will allow the dehumidifier enough room for air to flow freely and work better. 
  • Enclose your space to reduce humid air from entering your home. 
  • Empty the dehumidifier tank regularly. If the tank is full, the unit will shut, and constantly restarting will not let it run efficiently. 

Should I go for a dehumidifier or a heated airer?

Typically households would invest in a dehumidifier to reduce dampness and moisture in the air, which is a common side-effect of drying wet clothes indoors. 

But, now the pressure of high energy bills is forcing many of us to reconsider the cost of everyday tasks such as drying clothes. 

And while a heated airer is cheap to run, it can make the dampness and moisture in your home worse. Without good ventilation, you could risk mould in your home. 

Moreover, they take up a lot more space, which would be a problem if you live in a smaller property. Another problem would be to fit larger items such as jeans or bed sheets on the models. 

As for dehumidifiers, they are great for multipurpose use. They work well if your home has high humidity or your bathroom is poorly ventilated. You won’t have to worry about your clothes shrinking or being damaged as they don’t use any heat. 

The only issues are that dehumidifiers might be relatively noisy, and their running costs vary. Desiccant dehumidifiers are more expensive to run but you should anyway opt for a refrigerant one. 

Ultimately, if you have damp, mould or ventilation issues, your best choice would be to get a dehumidifier. Whichever you choose, you’ll also need to factor in the upfront cost of buying your airer or dehumidifier. 

Can I dry clothes on my radiator?

Tub with freshly washed laundry and socks hanging on the radiator

Radiators can seem like a cost-friendly option for drying your clothes as they are already in our homes.

However, you should steer clear of them if you want to save money. This is because radiators are there to establish an ambient temperature in your home. 

If you drape your wet clothes over the radiator, the moisture will be carried into the room and can lead to patches of mould. This might result in staining or peeling paint, which could cost you your deposit money if you’re renting.

Moreover, doing this will make the radiators work more than they need to, to bring back the heat to normal. And though you might end up with dry clothes, you’ll also end up with a colder home and a higher energy bill. 

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