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The Purchase : Productopia Tips : Dryer

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Choose gas to save money. Many models come in both gas- and electric-heated versions. Although the gas version typically costs about $50 more (and is more expensive to repair), the lower cost of gas in most areas quickly makes up for it.

Know your hook-ups. Electric dryers require a 240-volt outlet so make sure this is possible before you purchase. Likewise, a gas dryer requires a direct connection to the gas line but just a 120-volt outlet. If either of these are problematic, consider a self-venting condenser dryer. It actually condenses the moisture out of the warm air into a collection basin and can be plugged into just a 120-volt outlet.

Check for true moisture sensing. Unlike washers, dryers aren't given an energy rating. The only real way to save on energy consumption is to get a model with a moisture sensor. For best energy efficiency and fewest wrinkles, look for dryers with sensors inside the drum. They actually check moisture levels as clothes tumble against them. Some simply check the temperature of the exhaust air that gets hotter as clothes dry. This method isn't as accurate as the drum sensors.

Look for a cool-down cycle. A cool-down cycle uses residual heat to reduce energy consumption and prevent heat-set wrinkles. Some dryers will continue to keep clothes tumbling to further reduce wrinkles. Others cycle on and off until you remove the clothes for wrinkle reduction. Times vary from 45 to 150 minutes. Don't overdo this feature, though, because it will eat up your energy savings.

Check the lint filter. Make sure the lint filter is easy to reach and clean -- not just in the store, but in the position for your installation. A clogged lint filter really increases energy use and drying time. Plus it's a fire hazard, so plan to clean it with every use.

Bang the drum. For longest life, go with a dryer with a stainless steel drum. It won't rust or develop rough edges to snag clothes. Another good option is porcelain with a double plastic coating. This also eliminates rust and snags; plus, the white interior makes clothes easier to see. Avoid drums that are made entirely of plastic as they aren't particularly durable. And non-enameled porcelain will rust.

Check for fit and reach. Most dryers have doors that swing open. Make sure the swing direction fits your space and allows you easy access or can be switched to fit your needs. It's a real bummer to lean over a door and reach in when the door opens the wrong way. Some models have flip-down doors that are good to pile clothes on and will fit under counters.

Determine if you need a rack. If you have lots of sweaters or sneakers to dry, consider a model with an attachable drying rack. It will remain stationary while the drum spins and air blows through items on the rack.

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