Heated airer or tumble dryer: which is cheaper to dry my washing?

Tumble dryer in story on comparison between heated airer or tumble dryer for cheapest way to do laundry drying indoors

What is the best way to dry clothes at home without raising your energy bills too much: heated airer or tumble dryer? We find out. 

The cost of energy has gone up so much that households are now considering all the ways to use less gas and electricity. 

When it comes to drying clothes at home, air drying is the cheapest option we have. But it can either take hours (even days) to do when the temperatures drop. This is when you need to move on to your next best bet. 

Which one is the cheaper option: a heated airer or tumble dryer? Here we put them head-to-head to discover the best way to dry your laundry indoors. 

If you’re also wondering if a heated airer or dehumidifier is cheaper, we’ve already done the maths for you. 

And if you’re looking to switch your energy supplier, we have a round-up of deals and what you need to know in our find cheap gas and electricity deals article. 

Heated airers

Heated airer in story on comparison between heated airer or tumble dryer for cheapest way to do laundry drying indoors

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. They can usually handle between 10 to 15kg of wet laundry at a time. 

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 January price cap electricity rate of 29p per kWh.

Cost to run (per hour) Cost per use (five hours) Cost per week (three uses)
Two-tier heated airer (220W) £0.06 £0.30 £0.90
Three-tier heated airer (330W) £0.09 £0.45 £1.35

You would be paying around £47 a year to run a two-tier heated airer and £70 for a three-tier one. 

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

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

  • 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.

Tumble dryer

Tumble dryer in story on comparison between heated airer or tumble dryer for cheapest way to do laundry drying indoors

How much does a tumble dryer cost to run?

Tumble dryers are often considered a British household staple. But they also cost a huge amount of money, not only to buy, but also to run. They are one of the most energy-hungry appliances we have in our homes.

There are three main types of tumble dryers: heat pump, condenser and vented. But their prices vary by a huge margin. Here, we’ve compared how much each of them cost to run. 

Note, there are many factors that affect how much it costs to run, including how powerful it is and the type of tumble dryer you own.  

To give you an idea, we’ve looked at a typical 9kg tumble dryer. The calculations are based on the average January price cap electricity rate of 29p per kWh. 

Type of tumble dryer Cost to run (full load) Cost per week (three uses)
Heat pump (2.16 kWh) £0.63 £1.89
Condenser (5.2 kWh) £1.51 £4.53
Vented (5.34 kWh) £1.55 £4.65

To run a heat pump tumble dryer, you would be paying around £98 a year if you use it three times a week. It would be around £236 to run a condenser and £242 for a vented tumble dryer. 

You can use a smart meter to see how much a tumble dryer is costing you in real time. 

Out of the three, heat pump tumble dryers are energy efficient and cost around three times less to run. A Logik heat pump tumble dryer costs £359 from Currys, whereas a Samsung heat pump tumble dryer will cost you £599. 

The huge price difference is because of its energy efficiency rating. A+++ is the most efficient and expensive, whereas D is the least efficient and least expensive.  

How to efficiently use a tumble dryer

If you already own a tumble dryer and want to make the most of it, here are some things you can do to slash costs:

  • Don’t overload your tumble dryer (even though you might be tempted to).
  • Clean out any lint to avoid a potential build-up or use more energy than it should.
  • Think about the placement of your tumble dryer. Try keeping it in a warmer room so it can work properly.
  • A way to speed up the drying process is to add a dry towel to the load. This absorbs some of the moisture, but make sure you take it out after five minutes. 
  • Drying similar fabrics together will preserve your clothes and also avoid any damage that could occur through overheating. Plus, you don’t have to keep running the dryer even after some items have dried. 
  • Try getting all your laundry done in one day so that you have a heap ready to load. It will also dry your clothes faster as the dryer will have built up some heat already. 

Should I go for a heated airer or tumble dryer?

If you pit a heated airer against a tumble dryer in terms of costs, a heated airer is a clear winner. This is how:

If you use a three-tier heated airer three times a week, it costs about £64 a year. In comparison, even the cheapest heat pump tumble dryer will cost you at least £90.

So you could save £26 a year on your energy bills if you went with a heated airer instead of a tumble dryer.

Plus, you can get a heated airer for under £100, whereas a tumble dryer can cost anywhere between £180 to £2000.  

Keep in mind that it takes longer to dry clothes on a heated airer (around five hours) as compared to a tumble dryer (around an hour). 

Sometimes a heated airer is not an option if you don’t have the space for one in your home. In that case, going for a heat pump tumble dryer makes more sense as it is cheaper than a condenser or a vented tumble dryer by at least £128. 

Ultimately, the choice depends on what suits your home better, the space you have, and whether you’re looking for something long-term. 

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. 

Get help with energy costs or find out will energy prices go down next year