should you buy a heated airer… or a tumble dryer?

Posted by smol on



When it comes to drying laundry, line-drying is always a great option but in our climate it’s not always possible.

There are many ways to dry your laundry indoors but it’s true that some heat definitely speeds things up…

… and in that case, you’re probably talking about a heated airer or tumble dryer.

But which is right for you? There are a few things to consider when choosing whether to purchase a heated airer or tumble dryer.

tumble dryer vs heated airer

1. purchase price.

heated airers.

The price of a heated airer varies. Small models start at around £40. They are pretty basic and don’t hold much laundry, but if you’re on a strict budget this could be an answer.

Prices rise to around £200 for heated airer pods that use hot air fans rather than rungs; laundry dries more quickly but they are also more expensive to run. 

tumble dryers.

Tumble dryers start at around £200. These won’t have the high energy ratings you may want however and might not dry your clothes as quickly or as evenly.

Top end tumbles can cost over £2,000. For this, you’ll get an energy rating of A+++ and some pretty clever drying tech. 

2. load size.

heated airers.

Most heated airers hold between 10 and 15 kg of laundry, which is more than many of the larger tumble dryer capacities. 

With the average washing machine nowadays taking 7 or 8kg you can easily fit 2 laundry loads on an airer at a time.

tumble dryers.

Tumble dryer capacities range from small (5-6kg worth of laundry) all the way up to larger machines which can take up to 13kg of laundry at a time (that’s about 18 towels).

So it’s really only the largest tumble dryers that can compete with an airer in terms of how many kg of laundry can be held.

3. drying times.

heated airers.

Heated airers can dry a light load of delicates in anything from 1 to 3 hours but if you’re drying a heavy load of towels, woolly jumpers or jeans, it could take up to 10 hours.

Whilst these times are long, it’s a more gentle dry and you don’t run the risk of shrinking which can happen when using the tumble dryer.

tumble dryers.

Delicate cycles only take around 15 minutes but something like a laundry load of bedding can take up to 3 hours to dry completely. However, according to Whirlpool the average tumble dryer cycle takes about 45 minutes to complete.

Significantly quicker than a heated airer.

4. running costs.

heated airers.

Heated airers have cheaper running costs than tumble dryers, plus you’ll be drying up to twice as much as a tumble can in one go.

A 220 watt heated airer costs approx £0.50 for 8 hours of drying.

A 300 watt heated airer costs approx £0.69 for 8 hours of drying.

A 1000 watt drying pod costs approx £0.57 for 2 hours of drying (it’s faster).

Working out YOUR machine’s running cost is simple. 

Look at the wattage on your appliance and divide it by 1000. Now you know how many kWh of electricity it uses per hour. 

Next, check the cost of electricity (28.62p per kWh Jan 2024) and multiply that with the kWh number you just worked out. Now you know the running cost for one hour.

Finally, just multiply that by how many hours your airer takes to dry your laundry.

tumble dryers.

Here are some examples of different tumble dryer models along with their running costs.*

A 9kg vented tumble costs approx £1.55 per full load.

A 9kg condenser tumble costs approx £1.49 per full load.

A 9kg heat pump dryer costs approx £0.62 per full load.

But you can use the method previously explained to work out the running costs of YOUR tumble.

5. convenience.

heated airers.

Heated airers need setting up somewhere and left so may not be suitable for a smaller, busy home with kids and pets. Of course, they do fold away when not in use so are easy to store.

You will have to potentially rearrange items to ensure an even dry, but you can also dry multiple laundry loads at once saving you time and effort.

tumble dryers. 

Dryers install neatly into your kitchen, there’s no chance of them getting knocked over by children or animals and there should be no need to rearrange its contents… however their drying capacities are not as great as an airer so you’ll have to run multiple loads to get the same amount dry.

6. performance.

heated airers.

Anecdotally, those who use airers comment that their clothes feel better and last longer along with a more even dry (albeit a longer one).

tumble dryers.

Most tumble dryers will give a good performance but if you aren’t following suggested drying times, or overloading the machine you can expect an uneven dry. 

purchase price

load size

drying times

running cost examples



Heated airer

£40 - £200

10 - 15kg

1-10 hrs

c. 50-70p per load

Bulky but holds a lot

Good overall

Tumble dryer

£200 - £2,000

5 - 13kg

15 mins - 3 hrs

c. 60p - £1.59 per load

Neater but holds less

Good overall


so who wins the battle?

It all boils down to a few simple questions you need to ask yourself. Think about your personal needs, what type of home you have and your lifestyle. 

How much laundry do you need to dry each week?

How quickly do you need it dried? 

What budget do you have?

Whereabouts in the house can you place either of the appliances?

Are you drying mostly heavy items requiring long drying times or lighter items that are quick dry? 

Time to weigh up your needs and YOUR winner will become clear!



Want to read more about getting the laundry dry? Check out some of our other drying blogs.


* A 9kg vented tumble uses approx 5.34 kWh of electricity drying a full load* costing £1.55.

A 9kg condenser tumble uses approx 5.2 kWh of electricity drying a full load* costing £1.49.

A 9kg heat pump dryer uses approx 2.16 kWh of electricity drying a full load* costing £0.62.

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