One of the ways to save energy is to plug the electric dryer vent and capture and filter air vented from the electric dryer into the room.
There are any number of ways to save energy, and using an electric dryer to supplement heat for your home is just one of them. With fall and winter approaching, this might be a good time to consider how to capture waste heat from your electric dryer to help out with the job of warming the house. I’ve used this technique for many years in conjunction with recirculating the waste heat with my central furnace.
Think for a moment about how an electric dryer works, it heats up air, circulates it around your clothes, and then it’s exhausted outside. In the winter, we could all use a bit more heat in the home, so why not reroute the exhaust and make use of the energy? I need to remind everyone that only an electric clothes dryer is suitable for this application, as there are no combustion products associated with it. If you have a gas dryer, just forget it, those need to be vented outdoors at all times.
Here’s a video that explains the basics:
As shown in the video, the exhaust pipe from the dryer can be disconnected from the exterior vent and fitted with a nylon stocking to catch lint that will inevitably bypass the lint filter and be blown out the dryer exhaust. As the stocking fills with lint, pull it off of the pipe just a little bit to allow free flow of air. Heavy lint particles will be caught in the “nose” of the stocking while warm and moist air will escape from portions of the stocking that are freshly exposed to the air flow.
You’ll be able to feel when the stocking is loaded up and needs to be stretched out a bit to allow air flow. If you don’t stretch out the stocking, it will filter out more and more of the fine lint particles, but this will load up the stocking and inhibit air flow, and air flow is a key to efficient drying.
If you’re looking to this as one of the ways to save energy, just remember that this will add heat to your laundry room or area immediately surrounding where you have your dryer installed, but it won’t heat the entire house. It’s a minor supplement to your normal home heating, but it’s a welcome supplement as there is no reason to discard thermal energy when it can be reused to heat the home and provide moisture as well.
Also, be sure to plug up the opening to the outside with appropriate and sufficient material to prevent rodents and cold air from entering the house. At some point, I’m going to install a “T” with a damper on it so I can easily switch between venting indoors and outside. Then, I’ll create a hatch of sorts to easily cover and seal the louvers outdoors. That should make changing from exhausting warm air to capturing warm air a two minute operation.
So, one of the ways to save energy is not to let it escape, but to recycle it. Again, this only applies to electric dryers because gas units will fill your home with deadly combustion products.
Clair Schwan knows many ways to save energy, and one of the easiest is to use less of it. Another is to make better use of what needs to be used, and this is exactly what this electric dryer technique is all about.
Energy is essential for nearly everything we do, so it's wise to know how best to use it conservatively, and be capable of generating it on our own. The self-reliant aren't necessarily off the grid, but they often know a thing or two about alternative energy sources and make good use of them.