Clean Out the Lint for Dryer Efficiency and Save up to $25 a Year
A clogged lint screen or dryer duct drastically reduces the efficiency of your dryer, whether it’s gas or electric. Clean the lint screen after each load and clean the exhaust duct once a year. The Linteater (shown) has an auger brush that attaches to a drill to clean out the ducts.
Electric dryers use about $85 of electricity annually. A dirty lint screen can cause the dryer to use up to 30 percent more electricity, according to the Consumer Energy Center. Lint buildup is also a common cause of fires.
Dry loads of laundry back-to-back so the dryer doesn’t cool down between loads (a warm dryer uses less energy). And only run the dryer until the clothes are dry. Overdrying damages your clothes and runs up your electric bill. If you’re in the market for a new dryer and already have a gas line in the house, go with a gas dryer. A gas dryer is more efficient.
Cold Air in Dryer
Is your laundry room cold in the winter? Cold air might be coming through your dryer vent. The vent should have a flap (or flaps) at the end to stop air infiltration. Go outside and make sure there’s a flap and that it’s not stuck open. If the flap works well, check the caulking. If it’s cracking and peeling away, it’s probably allowing cold air to leak in. Cut away the old caulking, make sure the vent is flush against the siding, and apply new latex caulk.
If the flap doesn’t close on its own, try cleaning it and then spray silicone on the pivot point. If the flap still won’t close, replace it. A new vent costs about $5 at home centers, and installing it will only take about 15 minutes.
Start by cutting away the caulking around the vent on the siding with a utility knife, remove any screws and unclamp the duct leading to the dryer. Slide the old vent out of the wall, slip in the new one and reattach it to the duct. Caulk around the vent flange.
Cover Open Soffits
Builders often put a soffit where they want to put cabinets or recessed light fixtures, and sometimes they use soffits to contain heating ducts. Soffits have a high potential for leakage, especially if they contain recessed lights. Refer to your sketch and dig around in the insulation if necessary to find them. Reflective foil insulation, sometimes called ‘bubble-pack’ insulation, works well as an air barrier for soffits. It’s flexible and only about 1/4 in. thick, making it easy to cut with a scissors. You have to clear insulation from the surrounding wood to get the caulk to stick. Then cover the foil with insulation when you’re finished. However, don’t put insulation within 3 in. of recessed lights unless the fixture is IC rated (for ‘insulation ’). The rating will be listed on a label inside the recessed can.