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While we may take them for granted, clothes dryers are a great example of a modern-day luxury. Best of all, they’re only getting better and smarter, so if you’re in the market for a new dryer, you’re definitely in luck. Of course, this is still a buying decision you don’t want to just stumble into. Your laundry needs plus your budget and available space are all important considerations to look into before taking home a new clothes dryer. Here is some advice to get you on the right track to a bundle of cozy, freshly dried laundry.

Which is better: a gas dryer or an electric dryer?

While some may boast of the benefits of one or the other, deciding between an electric or a gas dryer comes down mainly to how much you want to pay up front versus how much you want to pay for utilities. If you’re looking for a short-term, cost-effective solution, an electric dryer will be your best bet. If you plan to continue using yours for years to come and are OK paying more up front but less on your monthly bill, opt for a gas model.

Of course, you’ll also want to take a peek in your laundry room to see what kinds of hookups are available. Electric models require a 240-volt outlet, which most laundry rooms come equipped with. Gas models require a dedicated gas line as well as a supply of electricity to spin the drum. You can choose to have a gas line added, but don’t forget to factor in that cost to your budget.

What size clothes dryer is right for me?

Chances are, you’ll buy your new tumble dryer as a set, in which case your washer will have a load capacity that matches. However, if you’re buying a replacement dryer or purchasing your laundry appliances separately, you’ll want to make sure the load capacities complement each other. If you already own a washer, check its size before you head to the store. If this is your first time purchasing a laundry appliance set, consider the washing and drying needs of your household. For a one- or two-person family, a compact unit of about 3.4 cubic feet should do as long as you don’t plan to launder any heavy, large garments or bedding. If you do plan to launder large items at least once in a while, or if your family may grow in the near future, search for a full-size clothes dryer that ranges from 5.8 cubic feet to 8.3 cubic feet.

In terms of how your new appliance will fit in your laundry room, you’ll want to measure your allotted space. Be sure to leave at least 3 inches on each side, including the back, to allow room for heat to escape plus pipes and wiring. If horizontal space is an issue, you may want to consider stackable dryers or a stacking kit. Don’t forget to check the distance between the location where your new unit will go and where the hot air it will produce will be vented out of your home. For every turn you have to make to reach the vent, add 8 feet to your total distance; you’ll want the total to equal less than 60 feet. Anything longer could cause a fire hazard and prevent hot air from effectively being vented out of your home.

What kinds of features do tumble dryers come with?

While most dryers will feature at least a few different cycles and timed settings, others may offer extras like a delayed start, steam-cleaning cycles, a drying rack and more. Some even offer ecofriendly settings, which is a huge boon, considering that dryers typically consume more than 10 percent of your total household power. Some ecofriendly models have moisture sensors that can tell when your clothes are dry and shut the cycle off early, while others have efficient dual heating elements. Some models even analyze your home’s energy rates via smart grids to determine when they’re the lowest, then automatically start your load at the optimal time. These models can also sync up with your smartphone or tablet to tell you how you can save more energy and money, plus allow you to analyze your energy consumption habits. If this sounds like technological heaven to you, check to see if your local area has accessible smart grids before you buy. If you’re concerned about your dryer’s energy consumption, you can also adjust your laundry habits by running your laundry loads through one after the other to prevent the drum from having to use more energy to heat up again and again.
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