Heated airer vs dehumidifier - which is the cheapest way to dry clothes indoors?

We’ve found both a heated airer and a dehumidifier are cheaper to use than a tumble-dryer, but how do they compare against each other?

Clothes hung with wooden pegs on a drying rack
(Image credit: Getty images)

Energy bills are high and drying clothes outside isn’t a great option in the winter months. We compare heated airer and a dehumidifier to find the cheapest way to dry clothes indoors.

The rising cost of living and high energy bills has resulted in households finding new ways to keep energy costs low in the home. 

Although there’s been a focus on keeping heating costs low, finding ways to save on using energy-hungry appliances like the tumble dryer or dishwasher efficiently can help cut your energy costs too.

We’ve repeatedly found tumble-dryers are one of the most expensive appliances to run in your home, and that both heated airers and dehumidifiers are cheaper to use. 

Here, we put the heated airer and dehumidifier head to head to see which is the cheapest way to dry your clothes indoors.

Heated airer vs dehumidifier

How much does a heated airer cost to run?

Clothes hanging on a washing rack

(Image credit: Getty images)

The cost of running a heated airer can depend on how powerful it is, what type of fabric it is drying and what cycle you put your washing machine on beforehand. 

According to our sister site Ideal Home, it takes 3 to 8 hours for most heated airers to dry a full load. 

You can buy heated airers of different sizes. Here’s the difference between a two-tier and three-tier heated airer assuming you use a heated airer three times a week and it takes five hours to dry a full load, this is how much it will cost:

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Header Cell - Column 0 Cost to run (per hour)Cost per use (five hours)Cost per week (three uses)
two-tier heated airer7p£0.35£1.05
three-tier heated airer11p£0.55£1.65

The calculations are based on the current 0.34p kWh unit price of electricity. The two-tier (opens in new tab) dryer costs £75 to buy and the three-tier (opens in new tab) one costs £95. 

You can cut the running cost of a heated airer even further by reducing the time it takes for the clothes to dry.  Paul Newman from Housetastic (opens in new tab) told Ideal Home (opens in new tab): “To make drying efficient, make sure your clothes have spun properly in the machine, so excess water has been removed.”

It’s also worth moving the clothes around that are drying every so often so that the heat reaches all areas of the garments.

How much does a dehumidifier cost to run?

Woman at home opening a standing dehumidifier

(Image credit: Getty images)

There are two types of dehumidifiers: refrigerant and desiccant.

  • Refrigerant dehumidifier - Commonly used in warm conditions, in heated homes. It doesn’t work as well in cooler temperatures. 
  • Desiccant dehumidifier - Works well in cooler conditions like in a conservatory, and it absorbs water from the air.

So if you’re drying clothes in your home, a refrigerant dehumidifier is your best bet. 

When it comes to how much a refrigerant dehumidifier costs to run, our sister site Goodto.com (opens in new tab) has crunched the numbers and found it costs around 8.5p an hour to run a typical 250W dehumidifier (opens in new tab).

According to ChooseDehumidifier (opens in new tab), how long you need to leave a dehumidifier on depends on the humidity levels in the room, the temperature, how wet your clothes are and the amount of moisture in the room.

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Header Cell - Column 0 Cost to run
(per hour)
Cost per use (five hours)Cost per week (three uses)
250W8.5p42.5p£1.28

These calculations are based on the current Kwh price of 0.34p. If you own a smart meter, it will give you a better indication of how much energy is being used when your dehumidifier is running. 

Experts told our sister site Ideal Home (opens in new tab) how to use a dehumidifier properly and effectively:

  • Dehumidifier manufacturer Chris Michael told Ideal Home that people should opt for a compressor dehumidifier and clean the filter monthly with a fibre cloth, so it doesn’t get clogged up.
  • He also recommends doing your research before buying. Things to look out for are a timer setting for drying clothes which turns off after 6 hours, and checking how much energy it uses (the wattage) so you’re aware of its running costs. 
  • The dehumidifier should be placed at least 20cm away from the wall and away from drafty doors or windows so the dehumidifier runs efficiently, brand manager from Duux, Chloe King says. 
  • If you open the window to try to get rid of moisture, this will only work if it is colder outside than it is inside, in temperature. 
  • Product manager at Russel Hobbs, Marc Duckworth told Ideal Home that the placing of the dehumidifier is the most common mistake. It needs to be placed nearest to the damp area/ nearest to where the damp is coming from. So if it’s drying clothes, then place it nearby. 
  • To dry clothes quickly, you should position the dehumidifier so that the air that comes out of the machine moves the clothes, rather than the other way around where the filters face the clothes.

The verdict

Iron hanger for drying clothes.

(Image credit: Getty images)

Typically households would invest in a dehumidifier to reduce dampness and moisture in the air, which is a common side-effect of drying wet clothes indoors. 

But, now the pressure of high energy bills is forcing many of us to reconsider the cost of everyday tasks like drying clothes. 

And while a heated airer is cheaper to run, it can make the dampness and moisture in your home worse.

Damp and moisture cause mould and removal of mould can cost a house hundreds of pounds – not to mention the bad health effects on the respiratory system, according to mould prevention technology firm, Wolviic.

CEO of Wolviic, Jigna Varu said: “Indoor air quality is already known to be ten times worse than outdoors, and drying clothes inside is only going to make it the perfect conditions for mould to grow.”

While using a heated airer can help you make savings in the short term, without good ventilation or using a dehumidifier it could have more expensive and damaging long-term costs. 

One approach worthwhile considering is a combination of both, which could cut down on drying time and reduce the risk of harmful mould in your home. 

Running both a heated airer and dehumidifier together for 5 hours will cost less than £1, much less than the £1.77 - £1.82 running a vented or condenser Tumble dryer could set you back and should dry your clothes while keeping damp and mould at bay.

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ProductUpfront cost Typical cost (full load / 5 hours of drying)Cost per week (three uses)
Heated airer and dehumidifier£150+ (combined)£0.80£2.40
Heat pump tumble dryer£430+£0.73£2.19
Condenser tumble dryer£200+£1.77£5.31
Vented tumble dryer£150+£1.82£5.46

The calculations are based on the current 0.34p kWh unit price of electricity. Product prices were researched on Dunelm, Appliances Direct, Currys and Amazon on 02/12/22.

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Adam French
Editor, The Money Edit

Adam is the Editor at The Money Edit.
He has been working to save you money as a personal finance and consumer journalist, editor and commentator for several years. His work has appeared in the HuffPost, Which?, i paper and This is Money, plus various TV and radio as a personal finance, consumer rights and scams expert, which include BBC Rip Off Britain, LBC, 5 News, Steph's Packed lunch and Newsround to name a few. He was previously the senior consumer rights editor at Which?.


When Adam isn't working he's watching Norwich City yo-yo between leagues or walking his dog.

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