It is a near-universal opinion that, while more expensive to purchase, gas dryers will save you money in the long run. There is certainly logic to back up this assumption, but perhaps there is more to be considered than what people first think.
I compiled all the details and figures into one short reading so that we can answer this question once and for all.
Gas dryers cost more to purchase, but their lower cost of operation makes them generally less expensive than electric ones. Special considerations, such as cost of gas/electricity in an area and possible maintenance costs may affect the extent of the total savings.
Why People Assume Gas Dryers Save Money
Gas dryers are typically more expensive to purchase when compared to electric dryers. They cost about 8% to 13% more than electric dryers of the same quality.
Gas dryers are supposedly worth the upfront investment because they cost less to operate in the long run. The rationale behind this is based on a few factors.
Gas dryers use far less electricity than electric dryers because they rely on gas to heat the air during a drying cycle.
Of course, we all know nebulously that the cost of gas should be accounted for as well, but as far as I can tell, no one really calculates this figure—we take it for granted that it is lower than the cost of electricity.
However, current gas and electricity costs may also vary depending on the region you live in. In the United States, gas tends to be two to three times cheaper than electricity.
Gas dryers are more efficient than electric dryers. More of the energy they create goes directly towards drying your load of laundry. Furthermore, they often get hotter than electric dryers, which means they require less time and energy to dry each load.
Factors People Don’t Consider
Whether a gas or electric dryer saves you more money is not as clear an answer as it first seems. There are a few factors that people often overlook.
As mentioned above, gas dryers rely on gas energy to complete a drying cycle while electric dryers rely on electricity. It is assumed that gas is always cheaper than electricity, but price differences vary across regions.
It may take longer than expected to make up the upfront price difference, but eventually, a gas dryer should still be cheaper to operate in this respect.
You also must consider the amount of time you plan to use the dryer for. If you only plan to stay at your residence for a year or two, buying the electric dryer may be more cost-effective for you unless you can take the dryer with you.
If you plan to stay in your residence for a longer period of time, a gas dryer will be more cost-effective for you. The longer you use a gas dryer, the more it will save when compared to the cost of an electric dryer.
Most homes built in the last 25 to 30 years will have the necessary 240 V outlet for an electric dryer. However, if your home does not, this will require additional costs to rewire the electrical system.
Conversely, if your home does not already have a natural gas line in your laundry room, consider purchasing an electric dryer. The costs associated with running a new gas line are far higher than the money you would save with a gas dryer.
Now we are going to do a deep dive into the numbers to see if a gas dryer will really save you any money.
Below, I gathered data on cost per load, load per year, purchase price, and lifespan of electric and gas dryers. We can calculate the average yearly price for each appliance.
However, keep in mind the possible maintenance costs with each appliance as well. Maintenance costs can vary greatly for each household, but a gas dryer may require more maintenance than an electric one.
It operates at a higher temperature, which is more likely to damage the appliance over time. The heating mechanism also has more components, which means there are more things that can go wrong.
Electricity Cost Per Load
Electricity costs about $0.12 per kW. Electricity rates vary by state, so you can check your own state for a more exact estimate on cost per load.
We can multiply 4 kW per load x $0.12 per kW = $0.48 per load.
Gas Cost Per Load
The average gas dryer uses between 20,000 and 25,000 BTU (British Thermal Units) per hour. This can also be measured as therms. The gas dryer uses 0.2 to 0.25 therms per hour.
You can multiply this number by how much gas costs in your region. A therm of gas in my region (the Midwest) costs about $1.04.
The United States Energy Information Administration has a handy map of the U.S. that shows average annual residential gas prices. You can find your area on the map to get a more exact idea of how much the gas cost per load may be.
A gas dryer also uses a small amount of electricity: about 1.3 kW per load.
We can multiply 1.3 kW per load x $0.16 per kW = $0.208 per load.
We can also multiply $1.04 per therm x 0.225 therms per hour = $0.23 per load.
Adding the electricity and gas costs makes it an average $0.438 per load.
Some areas also offer liquid propane to be used instead of natural gas. Liquid propane provides more BTUs per dollar and is more environmentally friendly but may not be an option for those with already existing gas infrastructure.
Average Number of Loads Per Year
The number of loads of laundry that a household does per year can vary widely depending on the household size and habits.
However, for the sake of calculations, we will use the average number of loads per year provided by the U.S. National Park Service, which states that the average U.S. household does about 300 loads of laundry per year.
Since gas dryers cost less per load to operate, a household that does more loads of laundry will benefit more from a gas dryer.
Gas and electric dryers last about the same amount of time. A gas dryer should last about 13 years. An electric dryer should last about 10-14 years.
Average Purchase Price
Gas dryers are typically more expensive to purchase when compared to electric dryers. They cost about $50 to $100 more than electric dryers of the same price and may also require the additional cost of professional installation due to the gas line.
A mid-range electric dryer will cost you about $500, while a gas one will cost you about $600.
I am going to combine all the above figures into one yearly cost for each type of dryer.
First let’s divide the upfront purchase price by how many years the dryer lasts. This will give us the yearly purchase price for each dryer.
- For an electric dryer: $500/14 years = $35.71 per year.
- For a gas dryer: $600/13 years = $46.15 per year.
Now, let’s calculate the amount of money spent on loads per year.
- For an electric dryer: $0.48 per load x 300 loads per year = $144.00 per year.
- For a gas dryer: $0.438 per load x 300 loads per year = $131.40 per year.
Now, we will add both yearly costs per dryer.
- For an electric dryer: $35.71 + $144.00 = $179.7 per year
- For a gas dryer: $46.15 + $131.40 = $177.55 per year
Using our data, you can see that a gas dryer is slightly less expensive than an electric one. You can follow the same steps using the exact electricity and gas costs for your region, in addition to the price of the appliances you’re looking at purchasing, for an exact price comparison.
This estimate does not include maintenance costs, which, as we mentioned before may be more expensive for the gas dryer due to higher temperatures and more heating element components.
The final verdict is that yes, gas dryers can save you money in the long run. It may not be a large margin, but the lower cost of operation and the other benefits makes up for the higher upfront price.
Since the cost difference is so minimal, it is important to consider factors that may make one type of dryer more beneficial to you:
- Do you plan to live in your residence long-term?
- How expensive is gas/electricity in your region?
- Will potential maintenance costs affect your decision?
You do, however, have to consider installation costs because the need to lay gas lines or install an LP tank can mean your gas dryer ends up costing double that of an electric dryer over its lifetime.