Heated airer vs dehumidifier – what’s the most cost-effective way to dry clothes indoors?

As energy bills continue to rise and temperatures keep dropping, we look at whether it’s cheaper to dry your clothes with a heated airer or with a dehumidifier.

Clothes airer and humidifier
(Image credit: © Alamy)

With the weather getting colder, we’re all trying to keep energy bills as low as possible.

Currently the Energy Price Guarantee, a typical household’s energy bill is around £2,500 – but your actual bill will depend on how much energy you use.

And since you can’t dry your clothes outside in the winter, many households have ditched the tumble dryer for a heated airer instead. But you could still be looking at over a few hours to get your clothes dry, which could add to your bill significantly.

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But, with energy prices set to go up by 20% in 2023, we explore whether a dehumidifier could instead help you slash costs of getting your clothes dry.

We compare heated airers with dehumidifiers – which one is cheaper to get your clothes dry in winter?

And if you want to know more about keeping energy bills to a minimum, you may also find our articles on radiators or electric heaters, fan heaters or oil heaters, and wood burning stoves vs central heating useful. As for drying your clothes, we’ve also compared whether it’s cheaper to use tumble dryer or a heated airer.

How much does it cost to run a heated airer?

How much it costs to run a heated airer will depend on the type of fabric it’s drying, how powerful it is, and how damp your clothes are when they’re out of the washing machine.

According to experts at Houstastic, it takes between three to eight hours for most heated airers to dry a full load. How much they cost to run will depend on their size.

A £75 two-tier heated airer from Dunelm for example will cost 7p per hour to run, 35p per five hours, and £1.05 a week if you use it three times.

A £95 three-tier heated airer will cost 11p per hour, 55p her five hours, and £1.65 per week for three uses.

To reduce the time the heated airer takes to dry your clothes and cut back on the energy use, make sure your clothes have spun properly in the machine to remove excess drier. Make sure you move your clothes around to make sure they’re all drying evenly, too.

How much does it cost to run a dehumidifier?

There are two types of dehumidifiers: refrigerant and desiccant.

Refrigerant dehumidifiers are used in warm conditions and heated homes. Desiccant dehumidifiers work well in cooler places, and absorb water from the air. So a refrigerant dehumidifier would work best to dry clothes in your home.

It costs around 8.5p an hour to run a standard 250W dehumidifier. How long you need to leave it on will depend on how humid the room is, the temperature, and how wet your clothes are.

If you used a 250W dehumidifier for five hours it would cost you 42.5p per use, and £1.28 if you used it three times a week. You could use your smart meter to work out exactly how much energy your smart meter is using.

Here’s some things to keep in mind when it comes to using a dehumidifier:

  • Opt for a compressor dehumidifier and clean the filter monthly to avoid it getting clogged up.
  • Do your research. Look out for a dehumidifier with a timer setting for drying clothes and check the wattage so you know the running costs.
  • Place it at least 20cm away from the wall and away from draughty windows and doors.
  • Opening your window to get rid of moisture will only work if its colder outside than it is inside
  • Place the dehumidifier nearest to the dampest area or where the damp is coming from. So if you’re using it to dry clothes, place it nearby.
  • Position the dehumidifier so that the air that comes out of the machine moves the clothes instead of the other way around, where the filter faces the clothes.

The verdict – should you use a dehumidifier or a heated airer?

If you’re looking to keep bills low, a heated airer is cheaper to run. But investing in a dehumidifier will also help reduce the dampness and moisture in the air in your home more widely and may allow the clothes to dry more quickly.

This is important, because damp and moisture can lead to mould, which is costly to remove and has detrimental effects on the respiratory system.

So, despite heated airers’ short-term savings, if you do’nt have proper ventilation a dehumidifier could have more long-term advantages.

Using a combination of both would, of course, be more costly, but it would be less than £1 which is not a bad price to pay for dry clothes and a mould-free home.

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Nicole García Mérida

Nic studied for a BA in journalism at Cardiff University, and has an MA in magazine journalism from City University. She joined MoneyWeek in 2019.