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Make Clothes Dryer More Efficient by Recycling the Heat

By Donald Grummett

As the cost of electricity continues to skyrocket consumers are looking for new ideas to help get the most value out of their appliances. This includes the electric clothes dryer.

Although consumption cannot be lowered there is a device to take advantage of the heat it produces. It is called a dryer heat recycler. It has proven to be a winner in the fight to be more energy efficient.

A heat recycler does just what its name indicates. It allows the warm air from the household electric clothes dryer to be redirected back into the laundry room. This is an added bonus if the laundry room is in a cold basement. Plus the heat is free.

Dryer Vent Recycling Theory

The theory behind the recycler is simple. It uses the hot air from the electric dryer to heat the laundry room. In this way the room vent can be closed down. Hence lowering your heating costs.

The element in an electric dryer is approximately 5000 watts. This is equivalent to a couple of baseboard heaters. The temperature of the air leaving an electric dryer is about 130 degrees Fahrenheit. So why waste it - instead, put it to work for you. For an investment of about $15 the hot air your dryer normally dumps outside can be directed back into the house. We have been successfully recommending these for years.

How Heat Keeper Works

There is a plastic handle on the side to direct the air either inside or outside. In the winter months the handle is adjusted to direct the hot air into the house. In the summer the air is directed back outside.

Heat Keeper

The heat recycler is easy to install. It is usually mounted (screws are provided) to a wall or beam behind, and slightly above, the dryer console area. Once mounted the dryer venting can be cut and reattached to the device. Follow the instructions to maintain proper airflow direction. The recycler does have an "in" and an "out". Always mount the recycler for easy access by all family members. If mounted in an awkward place no one will clean the filter.

Before purchase make sure the model you buy comes complete with two venting clamps. Some less expensive ones don't include the clamps. Clamps are vital for a proper installation. Do not be tempted to attach the venting sections to the recycler with duct tape. It will dry out and cause the venting to fall off. If required invest in two good quality metal vent clamps. A couple of four-inch clamps will cost about three dollars.

The recycler has a built-in filter screen that needs to be cleaned just like the one inside the dryer. We prefer the type that has a mesh screen filter as opposed to the one with a sock-like filter. It is a couple of dollars more but the metal filter is more durable and a lot easier to clean than the cotton type.

So once the recycler is mounted and secured give it a test run. Set the temperature selector to hot and start dryer. Allow dryer to run a few minutes. Test that the air comes inside when the handle is in the winter position. Next, move handle to summer position. Air should then be seen to go outdoors. Go outside and confirm air freely escapes outdoors. If not the screen in the outdoor vent cap may be blocked with lint. Or the vent cap flapper valve may be sticking.

Go back indoors and test all joints for air leakage. If leaking air, tape joints with duct tape.

Heat Keeper Low Maintenance

From then on all that is required is to clean the heat recycler filter every few laundry loads. Plus, twice a year turn the handle to redirect the airflow. Not much work to get all that nice free hot air for your home.

Note that throughout this article I have been using the term electrical clothes dryer. The heat recycler cannot be used with a gas clothes dryer. The venting pipe of a gas dryer must not be opened or redirected. Small amounts of gas vapour and carbon monoxide may be present in the outlet air of a gas clothes dryer. Therefore, for safety reasons, the heat recycler cannot be used with a gas dryer.

TECHNICIANS HINT: Experience has taught us not to mount the recycler directly above the start switch of the dryer. This avoids the recycler giving you a blast of hot air in the face every time the dryer is started.

Read one person's experience installing and using the Heat Keeper

Copyright 2007 by Donald Grummett. All right reserved. Donald Grummett has been in the trade over 30 years as a technician, business owner, and technical trainer. Visit MG Services to learn more invaluable information about your appliances.

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Last Modified: 24 March 2020

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