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Gas vs Electric Dryers – Which is Better?

While some homes have moved to using electricity for everything, many (including a lot of new ones) also have the option of using natural gas. This is very different in terms of its costs, although everything pretty much works the same. Here, we are going to look at which one of these is better when it comes to dryers. Being that I was just in the market for one, I had to do this research and felt that it may help explain to others why I made the decision that I did. So let us begin!

Drying Faster With Gas

Gas dries clothes faster because it heats up faster. Electricity has to use the electric to heat up coins, whereas the gas just ignites and starts pushing the heat out. This means that you can finish loads of clothes much faster by using gas, although you do still have a bottleneck: the washer. If your washer takes longer than the dryer, you are going to have to wait it out regardless of what method you use. But if you are going for speed on drying, gas is your choice!

Up Front Costs

A big thing that puts people off gas is that they have a higher up front cost. When you are out and about looking at dryers, you can usually take the price that you see (most that are going to be on show are electric) and add another $90 to $100 if you want a gas model. This is pretty steady through all of them as well, whether you are looking at one that costs $300 or $1500.

When we do our shopping, we usually do price comparisons as well. When we have to add costs for the gas versions of appliances, it is a little unsettling because we figure out what we are willing to spend, and then we are told that we have to add on to that. This is a reason why some simply choose to go with electric instead. As long as you are aware of the pricing differences, you should be good to go on this front. Also, most dryers do have a gas version (though they will often be available through special order). After looking at many myself, I could not find any that did not have a gas counter part.

Long Term Costs

Here is what you should really be paying attention to: the long term costs of using the dryer. I have seen different prices of drying a load of clothes, but they all boil down to about the same ratio, which is that gas is about half as expensive as electric. Some have estimated the cost of drying a load of electric clothes as being about 50 cents, so we will use that number since I am thinking it may be a bit low. So for gas, we will go with a price of 25 cents. Essentially every time you dry a load of clothes, you are saving half of the cost by doing gas instead.

The trick here comes by learning how much that is actually going to save you though. Just knowing that you spend twice as much does not help; there is another variable here, which is how often you do laundry. Someone who has to wash clothes multiple times a week will save more than someone who washes once a week, and they will save more than someone who washes every other week. This is a huge part of determining where your value is coming from.

Helping Work Out the Math

If you want to see which dryer is going to save you more over the short and long term, you can run a few calculations. You can swap in the cost of gas where you live (based on how much your dryer uses) and electricity (along with the dryer's usage) to get more accurate results than this, but these calculations should at least help show generalizations that should ring true.

  • Since we already worked out the cost of a load as 50 cents for electric and 25 cents for gas, we can move to the next step
  • Take the difference in the two costs. In this case, we come up with 25 cents
  • Take the difference of cost between the two units. We will go ahead and use a high estimate, of $100 (although most I have seen are just $90). Since tax also has to be paid, though, we will go ahead and add on another $10 just for ease of numbers. This puts us at a cost difference of $110
  • Divide the price difference by the cost difference of each load. In this case it is $110/0.25, which gives us 440 loads
  • Let us take the number of loads we do per month. In my case, I would estimate around four
  • Now we take the number of loads (440) and divide by the number of loads per month (4) and get 110
  • Take the number of months and divide by 12 to get the number of years: around 10

Now, when you run your actual numbers, you will see that you will break even at a different point in time. If you do two loads a week, for example, your break even point is only five years. If you do one a day, you are looking at a little over a year.

There is also another thing to keep in mind. Dryers are rated to generally last around 18 years. Based on the calculations above, if you wanted to estimate how many loads you would have to do per week to break even based on the dryer's life, it is around one every two weeks, or two a month. It is important to keep in mind, though, that this is the rated dryer's life and it could last longer or less time than that.

Determining Which is More Valuable

Now it is time to determine which of these is more valuable to you. Now that you know the math, this becomes a lot easier. Essentially what you are doing is taking the amount of time it takes to break even and seeing if it is worth having that much money tied up for that period of time. Along with this, you also need to consider how much you will be saving over the life of the dryer, so you need another calculation as well, but this one is much easier:

  • Take the number of loads you do per week and multiply by 52
  • Take that number and multiply by 18
  • You now have the number of loads you should do over the life of the dryer
  • Take the difference in cost between each load. In our estimate, we are at 25 cents
  • Multiply the difference in cost between loads by the number of loads you will do over the life of the dryer
  • Subtract $110

The number that you have left over is how much you will have theoretically saved over the course of 18 years by making the switch to gas. This can be considered as your long term savings. But keep in mind that this is also 18 years worth, assuming the dryer lasts that long. Being that it could last longer, you could save even more!

Another Consideration: Moving

A consideration you need to take when looking at this is that while the numbers help understand its value, they take an assumption as well. This is that you are not going to move, or that if you do move you will be in a house with natural gas again. If you move to a place with electric only, you need to account for this in your values. You can still sell the dryer and get back some of the cost, but this part is going to be so variable I will not go in to details. Essentially if you are planning to move to a house that does not have gas and you plan to do it soon, you may want to consider going with the electric depending on how much you are going to save between now and then.

Conclusion

Picking appliances can be a tough task. There are so many brands and models to choose from, and then you get stuck picking between electric and gas. Knowing the math behind figuring out which of these is the best helps out a lot when it comes to justifying the higher up front cost. At the same time, however, it can get you in a trap because you may end up moving to a place without gas hook ups. Taking all of the details mentioned above in to consideration should help you make the most informed decision you can, and it should accurately describe what you can look forward to. While you can use the generalizations found within this article to help influence your decision, it is going to be much better if you fill them in with your actual values. This will ensure that you are making the proper calculations.

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