Repair or Replace (and Recycle): Your Clothes Dryer
This is the fourth post in a series about determining whether your should repair or replace (and recycle) a broken appliance.
After three appliances in a row with quick expiration dates, you may be wondering if any major appliances in your home are worth repairing when they break down. As it turns out, your clothes dryer is one that you'll want to consider calling Mr./Ms. Fix-It before heading for the nearest appliance retailer.
Before we get too far, we should mention that line-drying is the green way to go, whenever possible; wet, cold wintertime weather and various space restrictions (if you live in a smaller apartment without a yard, for example) are a few things that make it tough to do all the time, though. When line drying is out, and your dryer goes down, you should have it repaired, on two conditions: 1) that your dryer has a moisture sensor (most still in good working order today do), and 2) that it's not more than 15 or 18 years old, and nearing or at the end of its useful life-you can pretty easily pay for a new dryer with the cost of a few repairs.First, the moisture sensor: it's important because it shuts your dryer off when your clothes are dry, which saves energy, since it runs less, and saves wear and tear on your clothes, which don't like being over-dried, and wear and tear on the dryer. Most machines that aren't older than the average life of a dryer-right around 15 to 18 years-use a similar amount of energy; so much so that Energy Star doesn't bother to rate them, and the reason why clothes dryers are not required to display those yellow EnergyGuide labels.
This is also why we put such emphasis on line-drying; after the fridge, the clothes dryer is the appliance likely to cost you the most in energy, costing about $85 to operate annually. That means that over its expected lifetime of 18 years, the average clothes dryer will cost you approximately $1,530 to operate, so cutting back whenever you can really adds up.
If you do find yourself in the market for a new dryer, look for one that not only has a moisture sensor, but has the sensor located in the drum (rather than the exhaust) so it can more accurately measure how much drying remains to be done, and shut off sooner. Get more green laundry tips from the U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.
Difficulty level: Easy to moderate