As I watch my new PowerCost Monitor, we can tell when the dryer is running; our normal $0.08/hour of usage spikes to $1.25 to $1.50/hour. Whoa. I will work on making line drying some our wash a possibility, but sometimes you need to use the dryer. I have seen two separate instances where cleaning a dryer vent speeds up drying time significantly, and therefore uses less electricity.When the vent is clogged, or even a little obstructed with lint, or by a sharp bend, the fan in the dryer cannot push out the damp air as quickly. The dryer will seem to be working, but in one case took almost twice as long to dry a similar load. The first dryer was one with a bendy, white plastic tube for a vent. It didn’t vent outside, instead went through a device at the end with a fancy lint screen. This was easy; I just took the thing apart and cleaned out the screen, and tube with the brush from a dust-pan. The plastic tube is not recommended; use an aluminum one, at least, to reduce the risk of fire.
The next one (in our house) was harder. A metal duct vent tube is a much better choice, because it is smoother, and therefore lets air flow more easily. However, they make it a little tricky to clean, and this is what I did this morning. In the end, it only took about 20 minutes.
There is probably a hose clamp or a dryer vent clamp one one or both ends of the vent — one attaching the vent to the dryer, the other to the hole to the outside. These can be easily loosened with a screw-driver, at which point the vent should slip off pretty easily. It’s not uncommon to use duct tape; if so, just take it off (you’ll need fresh tape or a clamp to reinstall). I used a toilet brush with a bendable handle to get around the curves, tying a piece of string (clothes line, actually :-) to the end. This way, I could pull the brush all the way through the vent, and I did this five or so times until it came out pretty clean.
There are various products designed for cleaning your dryer vent. They may make disassembling the vent unnecessary, so perhaps that’s worth a try. My local hardware or Home Depot had nothing, but I have seen them online for about $15. There are also fancy-pants rotary cleaners which I am sure do a fabulous job, but are too pricey for me. You can also have someone come and do this job — probably a company like ServiceMaster would be a place to look.
Dryers are actually pretty light and easy to move. If you have an electric dryer, unplug it first. If you have a gas dryer, be careful — there’s a flexible gas tube, but be very gentle and move the dryer as little as possible.
But best of all, use the sun!