Tumble dryer vs dehumidifier: how to dry clothes inside for cheap?


As the cold winter snap hits, air drying clothes is no longer an option. We compare tumble dryer vs dehumidifier to find out which is cheaper for your laundry. 

Energy prices are on the rise, which means everyone’s looking for ways to save on energy costs

Especially when it comes to drying clothes inside during winter. Two common appliances come to mind: the tumble dryer and the dehumidifier. 

We’ve already covered heated airer vs dehumidifier and heated airer vs tumble dryer. Now we’ll compare tumble dryer vs dehumidifier to find out which one is more budget-friendly for you. 

If you’re looking to switch your energy supplier, we’ve all the info you need to find cheap gas and electricity deals.  

Tumble dryer

Tumble dryer

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. 

Keep in mind that many factors affect how much it costs to run a tumble dryer such as power and what kind you own.    

To give you an idea, we’ve looked at a typical 9kg tumble dryer. The calculations are based on the average October price cap electricity rate of 27p per Kwh. 

Type of tumble dryer Cost to run (full load) Cost per week (three uses)
Heat pump (2.16 kWh) £0.58 £1.74
Condenser (5.2 kWh) £1.40 £4.20
Vented (5.34 kWh) £1.44 £4.32

To run a heat pump tumble dryer, you would be paying around £90 a year if you use it three times a week. It would be around £218 to run a condenser and £225 for a vented tumble dryer. 

There are many factors that affect how much it costs to run. How powerful it is and the type of tumble dryer you own are some of these. 

Out of the three, heat pump tumble dryers are more energy efficient and cost less to run, but are more expensive. 

When buying a new appliance look at its energy efficiency rating. A+++ is the most efficient and usually most expensive, whereas D is the least efficient and usually the least expensive to buy.  

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. 


Dehumidifier in a bathroom

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 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. 

What is cheaper: tumble dryer or dehumidifier?

Dehumidifier to dry clothes indoors

If you’re looking to use less gas and electricity to save on your bills, it’s better to invest in a dehumidifier as it’s cheaper to run than a tumble dryer. This is how:

A 250W dehumidifier costs £1.01 per week to run, whereas even the cheapest 2.16kW tumble dryer costs £1.74. If you look at annual savings, a dehumidifier will save you around £38 on average. 

However, it will take longer to dry your clothes on a dehumidifier (around five hours) as compared to a tumble dryer (one hour). So make sure you use it efficiently to save on energy costs

Typically it’s worth investing in a dehumidifier if you struggle with dampness in your house as it could save you a lot on mould remova This is usually common in older homes or a side-effect of drying your wet clothes indoors. 

Plus, dehumidifiers use less heat and don’t shrink or damage your clothes. 

However, if your household already has a tumble dryer, make sure you use it on eco modes or any energy-saving features to cut costs. 

Ultimately, whichever you end up choosing, you’ll also need to factor in the upfront cost, what suits your home better, and if it’s for the long term.

Can I dry clothes on my radiator?

Radiator has clothes on

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 have dry clothes, you’ll also end up with a colder home and a higher energy bill. 

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