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Click here to see a descriptive illustration of several styles of new efficient clothes dryers.
Dear Jim: My old electric clothes dryer is noisy and the clothes are often still damp or too dry with wrinkles. I need a new efficient one with more accurate and convenient controls. What do you suggest for me? - Judy D.
A: The quality of controls (cycles, times, temperatures, dryness sensors, etc.) separate a high-quality dryer from a poor one. Your old dryer may be well-made, but the accurate high-tech electronic controls and soundproofing materials in new ones were not available when your old one was built.
Dryers are simple devices with a blower to suck heated air through the clothes and a rotating drum to tumble them. The operating cost (efficiency) is a function of good controls which run it for the shortest time at the ideal temperature for thorough, wrinkle-free drying.
Instead of a standard dryer which is vented outdoors, consider a no-vent condensing dryer which you can locate anywhere in your house where sound will not be a problem. Some models are combination washer/dryers. You put in dirty clothes and take out clean dry wrinkle-free clothes and hour or two later.
No-vent dryers plug into any standard 110-volt wall outlet. Heated air flows through the wet clothes and absorbs the moisture which dries them. This warm moist air goes through a condensing heat exchanger where the water drips into a pan. During winter, this keeps heat inside your home.
Some new vented models use special sound absorbing materials so they should be adequately quiet. Most importantly, select one with a true electronic dryness sensor. This is a small sensor located inside the drum area. It touches the clothes as they tumble to get a precise measurement of their dryness. Look for it inside the drum or check the product specifications.
Many top-quality dryers use a polished stainless steel drum instead of enameled steel. Stainless steel is durable (no paint to chip), easy to clean and easy on the fabrics as they tumble against it. Some of the dryers with stainless steel drums have capacities as high as 7.3 cubic feet.
A reversing rotation feature enhances drying and reduces wrinkles. Every several minutes, the dryer reverses rotation to keep clothes untangled and improve air flow through them. Another convenient feature tumbles the clothes every minute after they are dry until you remove them. A high-temperature antibacterial feature to kill germs can be used on cottons.
Digital control panels are the easiest to use on full-featured models. A dirty lint filter warning light or alarm is a helpful reminder. With nine or more preset cycles on some dryers, you can usually find one to match the load type. Selecting a preset cycle provides the most efficient drying.
Instant Download Update Bulletin No. 559 - buyer's guide of the 16 most efficient no-vent, standard-vent dryers and combination washer/dryer manufacturers showing types of automatic moisture sensors, max. drying capacities per load, reversing or one-way drum rotation, drum materials used, number and description of drying cycles, overall dimensions, unique features, prices and laundry efficiency tips.
Dear Jim: I want to get quotes for adding another bedroom to my house. I want an energy efficient design. How much should I expect to pay for a 14-foot by 16-foot bedroom addition on the first floor? - Mikki R.
A: It is impossible for anyone to give you an estimate without actually inspecting your existing home and discussing all the details and amenities you desire in the new bedroom.
When you begin to get quotes, be leery of anyone who gives you a low quote without a thorough inspection and a written list of the specifications. They may find ways to increase the costs once the job has been started.