Do Heat Pump Clothes Dryers Make Sense for the U.S. Market?
Heat pump clothes dryers (HPCDs) can be as much as 50% more energy-efficient than conventional electric resistance clothes dryers, and therefore have the potential to save substantial amounts of electricity. While not currently available in the U.S., there are manufacturers in Europe and Japan that produce units for those markets. Drawing on analysis conducted for the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) current rulemaking on amended standards for clothes dryers, this paper evaluates the cost-effectiveness of HPCDs in American homes, as well as the national impact analysis for different market share scenarios. In order to get an accurate measurement of real energy savings potential, the paper offers a new energy use calculation methodology that takes into account the most current data on clothes washer cycles, clothes dryer usage frequency, remaining moisture content, and load weight per cycle, which is very different from current test procedure values. Using the above methodology along with product cost estimates developed by DOE, the paper presents the results of a life-cycle cost analysis of the adoption of HPCDs in a representative sample of American homes. The results show that HPCDs have positive economic benefits only for households with high clothes dryer usage or for households with high electricity prices and moderately high utilization.