Did you know that your clothes dryer is one of the biggest energy hogs in the typical home? According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR program, the dryer usually consumes more energy than the dishwasher, washing machine or even the refrigerator. You can always upgrade to an ENERGY STAR-certified model for a big jump in energy efficiency, but there are plenty of other ways you can get more bang for your buck using just the things you already have at home.

Keep It Clean

Everyone should know that it’s important to clean the lint filter after every load. Not only does a clogged filter reduce your drying efficiency, it can pose a serious fire risk. But lint gets all over the place, and it’s a good idea to do a deep cleaning every few months.

If you have a vacuum hose attachment, use it to try to remove as much stray lint as possible from the lint trap cavity. Then pull the dryer away from the wall and remove any dust and lint from the back of the machine, especially from any vents.

Lint will even accumulate inside the machine on the outside of the drum. To get to this, you’ll need to remove the front or top panel of the machine. It’s a simple process on most models, but you’ll want to refer to your manufacturer’s instructions first. Once you have access to the inside of the machine, a vacuum attachment or long-handled duster should be all you need to finish the job.

Advanced Settings

Newer dryers may have a moisture sensor setting that will automatically shut off the cycle when your clothes are dry, minimizing energy waste. If your machine has this setting, make sure you know how to activate it, and use it whenever possible.

But just like the rest of your dryer, the moisture sensor can get gunked-up over time -- especially if you use dryer sheets. Refer to your manufacturer’s instructions to learn where this sensor is located and how best to clean it.

Pre-Dry to Save Time

Your clothes will dry faster and save energy if they’re as dry as possible before you put them in the dryer. There are several ways to do this -- if you have space for a drying rack inside or a clothesline outside, you can pre-dry your clothes for a while and finish them in the dryer to ensure that they’re soft and fluffy.

If you don’t have that kind of space, you could run the spin cycle twice on each load of wash. Some people even use a salad spinner to get extra moisture out of small garments!

But there’s another moisture-grabbing trick -- if you throw a clean, dry towel in the dryer with a wet load, it will soak up lots of moisture. Just be sure to pull it out about 15 minutes into the cycle and allow it to hang dry. Your clothes will get dry faster than ever!

If you’re looking for other ways to conserve energy at home, consider contacting your local electrician for a thorough energy audit.