High cost of heat pumps in tumble dryers

Why is this gap important?

Tumble dryers use a considerable amount of energy when in operation – globally energy consumption is approaching 100 TWh annually and is expected to more than triple by 2050 as ownership and use expand. Heat pump technology is therefore important, as it can significantly improve tumble dryer energy efficiency.

Technology solutions

Current status: TRL-9

The technology has been developed over the last 20 years, and many major appliance manufacturers are able to use it. However, the current cost of the technology means it cannot compete with traditional tumble dryers, especially at the point of purchase.

Although heat pumps are usually more expensive to purchase, for most householders it is repaid by the significantly lower running costs (typically half of a traditional tumble dryer). As this technology can pay for itself (in higher-use situations, usually in colder climates), policy can encourage market demand, which in turn will stimulate manufacturers to innovate and develop new lower cost appliances, which in turn will offer greater choice and availability. Where electricity prices are low or tumble dryer usage is minimal, governments may need to use other incentive mechanisms (for manufacturers or for consumers, working with manufacturers) to increase uptake.

Heat pump-integrated tumble dryers Readiness level:

Colored bars represent the Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of each technology. Learn more about TRLs

What are the leading initiatives?

  • To overcome this up-front cost issue, Switzerland has set its MEPS at a level that requires heat pump technology in all newly sold tumble dryers.
  • The 4E TCP will be tracking tumble dryer technology as part of its new Policy Energy Efficiency Trends (PEET) Annex.

Recommended actions

Manufacturers

Next 5 years:

  • Reduce the cost of heat pump tumble dryers

Governments

Next 5 years:

  • Provide incentives to ramp up sales in the short term (through ideally technology neutral specifications)
  • Introduce MEPS to mandate the technology (as done in Switzerland)