As technology continues to evolve, society often gets rid of older versions to make room for the new. For example, how many people still use flip phones? I would guess most people have traded them out for touchscreen models.
Will gas dryers soon be a thing of the past as well?
With the rise of environmental concerns and possible legislation being made to limit natural gas emissions, gas dryers may become very uncommon in the near future. Other options, such as electric dryers and heat pump dryers may replace them.
Concern About Natural Gas Emissions Is Rising
As we learn more about the harmful effects of gas emissions, people are becoming increasingly concerned about the long-term consequences on the environment and our health.
Gas dryers produce about 3.96 lbs (1.8 kg) of carbon dioxide per cycle. If your household does two loads per week, that adds up to over 200 lbs of carbon dioxide over the course of one year!
The average American carbon footprint is 24,000 lbs per year. This is 2-3 times higher than the average of European countries, and the use of appliances such as gas dryers can account for some of this disparity.
These gas emissions have long term effects on the environment through issues such as global warming, but also more immediate effects. Gas emissions can exacerbate symptoms of asthma, cause reduced lung capacity, and increase susceptibility to respiratory illnesses.
We know the negative effects associated with the use of gas appliances, and we have alternative options, such as electric dryers and air drying. It is not far-fetched to think that appliances like gas dryers will soon be outlawed from new buildings.
In fact, there are potential bans coming into effect for some other gas appliances. Consumer Reports found that emissions from gas ranges exceed what is recommended by the World Health Organization. This led states such as New York and California to push for a limit on the use of gas ranges.
Currently, there isn’t any set-in-stone legislation to ban or seize gas stove tops or gas dryers. But if we are talking about the possibility of banning one gas appliance, how long will it take for all gas appliances to be barred from use?
Gas Dryers Are Only Really Used in US
The need for a clothes dryer at all is more of an American sentiment, and this rings even more true for gas dryers.
In other parts of the world, it is much more common to air dry laundry using a clothesline.
Energy Star reported that 80% of United States homes have a dryer, while less than 20% of Italian homes do. It is part of the culture to choose a longer drying time over an energy using appliance, and in some residences there isn’t space for a dryer anyways.
In the United States, however, some homeowners associations even ban clotheslines because they are deemed “unsightly.” The dryer is seen as cleaner and more time-efficient.
Gas dryers are slightly cheaper to operate than electric dryers in the United States because natural gas is cheaper than electricity.
In Europe, however, natural gas prices are some of the highest worldwide. It does not make financial sense to use a gas dryer.
Most Americans Already Use Electric
The switch to all electric dryers would not be that drastic for the US. In fact, most Americans already use an electric dryer. There are a few reasons why:
- Electric dryers are easier to install in new homes. They do not require a gas hookup and do not need to be professionally installed. As long as the room has a 240-volt outlet, you’re all set.
- Electric dryers are around $50 to $100 cheaper to purchase. Although gas dryers are technically a bit cheaper to operate in the long run, the lower purchase price for an electric dryer often plays a role in the decision to purchase it over a gas one.
- Since gas dryers operate at a higher temperature, you may need to perform maintenance tasks more often. Electric dryers are comparatively more low-maintenance and have budget-friendly repair costs.
- And as discussed above, some Americans are concerned about the natural gas emissions from gas dryers. Some people choose to avoid this possible danger by choosing an electric dryer instead.
How Long Will It Be Before They Are Gone?
Although the negative effects of gas appliances are known, it could be a while before they are actually gone from new homes.
California is the first state to propose such a thing, with their plan to phase out natural gas water heaters and furnaces by 2030. This proposal does not mention gas dryers, so the process for phasing those out would require another bill.
Additionally, the placement of a ban won’t immediately stop all gas dryers from being used. The ban would outlaw new installations of gas dryers, but it would not be able to remove already installed gas dryers from homes.
The lifespan of a gas dryer is about 13 years. So, even after a ban is in place, it could take over a decade to be rid of all gas dryers.
Taking all these factors into consideration, you can expect to see gas dryers for at least another decade or two.
Goal Is Likely Heat Pump Dryer Use
Even if gas dryers are soon to be a thing of the past, replacing them with electric dryers won’t solve the root problem of energy usage.
Electric dryers still use high levels of energy to dry laundry, so electricity production-related pollution is still going to be an issue. If passed, the ban will be a first step on a journey toward more energy-efficient dryer options, such as a heat pump dryer.
According to the Energy Star program, European heat pump dryers only require 40-50% as much energy as conventional North American dryers to dry the same amount of laundry.
Heat pump dryers work in a closed system instead of venting air outside the machine. The dryer sends air through an evaporator to remove excess moisture, then reuses the same hot air to dry the clothes more.
Since the hot air is reused instead of being immediately vented out, less electricity is used to generate heat.
Of course, you can also consider ditching your dryer altogether.