Archive for February, 2016

energy efficient dryer

There are a lot of different dryers on the market, all with slightly different designs and slightly different services to offer. Some are more energy efficient than others, and those are generally more expensive but also will cost you less on your utilities bill every month.

The existence of energy efficient products isn’t itself such a foreign idea, but have you ever wondered exactly what it is about those products, in this case dryers, that makes them more energy efficient? The secret is in certain small adjustments to the design. This article will act as a basic introduction to what engineers have done to make dryers offer the same heating service while using less energy input.

In general, a clothes dryer heats wet clothes as it tumbles them. It does this by pulling outside air into the machine, having it pass over heating elements similar to those of a toaster, and then sending that hot air into the dryer drum where the clothes are spinning. The reason it makes sense to tumble clothes is that it separates wet surfaces, allowing the dryer to divide and conquer wet spots as warm air circulates through your clothing and converts water to steam. The steam that is generated throughout this process is then blown out of the dryer through the drying vent. The tumbling motion also fluffs up your clothes, which is why clothes are so much softer out of the dryer than off a clothes line.

A conventional dryer uses about 1,000 kilowatts of energy a year, which comes out to costs around $85. They’re comparative energy hogs and unfortunately they all operate so similarly that Energy Star hasn’t seen fit to rate them. By the way, if you’re wondering what qualifies a machine for an Energy Star rating, it only has to operate using 10% less energy than the standard appliance.

That said, there are dryer features that allow them to become more energy efficient, so if you’re looking for a more resource-scrupulous machine, you can seek the ones with the following options:

A drying machine with a moisture sensor can operate with more energy efficiency because it will turn itself off after overall moisture rates drop past a certain level; timed dries tend to waste energy by running after they’ve already completed the job.

top loading dryerCool-down features can also allow for dryers to function with less waste. They make the dryer continue to tumble clothes but without heating outside air towards the end of the cycle; this way your clothes can make it to dry using residual heat instead of unnecessary extra heat.

Some dryers have top-loading designs and switch the direction of the tumbler, making it harder for clothes to ball up and create pockets of moisture protected from the heat.

Even if you don’t buy a dryer with these features, there are ways you can use conventional dryers to save energy. Spin your clothes as much as possible before loading them, don’t over load your clothes, separate clothes by weight or fabric type, clean your lint screen, keep your vent hose clear, and pre-dry heavier items on clothes lines.

GFCIEver seen an outlet that has a reset button on it and wondered what was going on there? You’re looking at a ground-fault circuit interrupter and it’s there to protect people from being electrically shocked.

Remind you of a fuse? They’re somewhat similar, but not exactly. The main purpose of a fuse is to protect a larger electrical system (like a home) from undergoing a dangerous fault that sets off an electrical fire. A fuse uses a small wire to carry current so that if the current exceeds a certain amperage that surpasses the amperage for which the system was built and begins to heat the wire past a particular point, the wire will melt and the overheating circuit will break before any electrical fires can happen. That’s very helpful, because mundane household activities like vacuuming and hanging pictures can damage a circuit in such a way that huge amounts of current being to flow in places that aren’t built to withstand it, and that means the wires holding that current will start to heat up like the wires in your toaster. The fuse heats up faster than the wire and burns out before the wire can start a fire.

So that’s the point of the fuse, but a GFCI (which stands for ground-fault circuit interrupter) is slightly different. It’s more subtle and is built right into the standard American 120-volt outlet, which if you remember, has two vertical slots and then a round hole centered below them. The slightly larger left slot is called “neutral” and the slightly smaller right slot is called “hot” and the hole in the bottom center is called the “ground”. A properly functioning appliance will cause electricity to flow from the hot slot to the neutral slot.

The ground-fault circuit interruptor monitors the amount of current flowing from hot to neutral for imbalance and trips the circuit if something isn’t going the way it should be. It’s able to sense an imbalance as small as one between 4 to 5 milliamps and reacts within one-thirtieth of a second.

GFCI worksThis makes using appliances much safer. Say you’re using your power drill on a cold, wet day and you are standing on the wet ground outside your house. The drill is a little wet, making it possible for there to be a path from the hot wire inside the drill through you to ground. You don’t want the electricity to flow from the hot to ground through you because that could really mess you up; luckily the GFCI can sense the current flowing through you because not all of the current is flowing from hot to neutral, as would be expected. Once it senses that a second circuit is causing there to be less electricity flowing to neutral than expected, it trips the circuit and cuts off the electricity.

So say this happens while you’re using your hair dryer or something and you identify the unsafe aspect of what you were doing and fix it; how do you go back to using that outlet? Just reset it with the other button, it will reconnect the circuit and make it possible for you to use appliances plugged into that outlet again.