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Gadgets & Home Improvement

Warming up to dryers

Dryers are getting popular as they let home owners do their laundry even in rainy weather
The Straits Times - December 12, 2011
By: Tay Suan Chiang
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Warming up to dryers Mrs May Gwee prefers using a dryer instead of hanging the clothes up to dry. -- ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

The wet spell has meant laundry woes for many home owners who find that clothes take longer to dry or, worse, get wet when not taken in before those sudden downpours.

So for an increasing number of households, a clothes dryer has become a hot item.

Marketing manager Michelle Ng says: 'If it rains consecutively over a few days, I will see my dryer working harder for me.' 

She has been using her dryer for the last four years.

'I like clothes to be dried by the sun but it is impossible during the wet season,' says the 41-year-old. She uses hers for heavier items such as jeans, towels and bedlinen.

Mrs May Gwee, 40, a freelance public relations consultant, prefers a dryer instead of hanging laundry on bamboo poles. 'I was tired of waiting for the sun to appear, the rain to stop - basically to do my laundry based on weather conditions.'

She uses the dryer for every laundry load. 'Clothes can be washed and dried overnight, which is useful, especially when it comes to the kids' school uniforms,' she says.

With Singapore's hot weather during most times of the year, it is no surprise that dryers are not a common household appliance. But they are gaining popularity.

Mr Ryan Tan, marketing manager for Casa which distributes Blomberg dryers, says 'sales are always higher whenever there is rainy weather'. He declined to give exact figures.

Ms Jesmine Loh, head of corporate communications at Courts, Singapore's largest electrical, IT and furniture retailer, says the store has been selling dryers for about 20 years.

'Dryers have been gaining popularity in recent years,' she adds. Courts sells about 150 dryers a month.

Dryers have a bad reputation for being energy guzzlers, but with technology, the newer models are now more energy- efficient.

Some also come with a four-tick rating from the National Environment Agency, which awards a maximum of four ticks for the most energy-efficient appliances.

Most dryers are electric ones and they are either air-vented or condenser dryers.

Air-vented dryers draw in cool, dry ambient air around them and heat it before passing it through the tumbler. The resulting hot, humid air is usually vented outside to make room for more dry air to continue the drying process.

'This design makes no effort to recycle the heat put into the load and thus is considered environmentally detrimental,' says Mr Daniel Lum, brand marketing manager for Bosch.

In the case of condenser dryers, moisture is removed from the clothing without releasing the moist air into the atmosphere. The condensed water is then collected in a container provided or drained away with the use of a drainage kit.

'A condenser dryer may provide a better solution in terms of energy efficiency,' says Mr Lum.

Also available are washers-cum-dryers. Korean brand Samsung has a combo washer that both washes and dries clothes.

Its product manager for home appliances, Ms Wan Wai San, says: 'Those who have space constraints in their homes may want to consider combo washers as they help to optimise the use of limited space while meeting both washing and drying needs.'

Ms Brenda Loke, 36, a marketing communications and public relations manager, uses the dryer function of her combo washer only during the later months of the year.

'I prefer clothes to be dried in the sun. But during the rainy season, the clothes can't dry properly so the dryer comes in handy.'

Having a combo washer means there is no need to unload the laundry after a wash but often the machine's drying capacity is smaller than its washing one.

'Hence, users may need to reduce the load after a wash before drying. For small families or singles, this challenge may not be significant,' says Courts' Ms Loh.

If either the washer or dryer breaks down, the whole machine has to be sent for repair or be replaced.

Professional photographer Wesley Loh, 40, who has a separate washer and dryer, adds: 'With two machines, I'm able to do more loads of laundry, rather than to wait for everything to be done.'

With two young children at home, he says a dryer saves on laundry time. 'Plus there is no damp smell on the clothes after using the dryer. Sometimes, air-dried clothes which are not fully dried have a smell or even go mouldy.'

A third kind of dryer - the gas dryer - is said to be even more energy-efficient than the electric one.

Town and natural gas utilities provider Citygas offers a gas clothes dryer for $695. The dryer, which is about 25 per cent more compact than an electric dryer, uses gas rather than electricity. However, it can be fitted only in homes that come with piped gas.

According to Citygas, a 6kg load of laundry takes 60 minutes to dry using a gas dryer, while it would take twice as long in an electric dryer.

'Not only is a gas dryer more efficient, but it also gives a fluffy feel to the clothing, unlike an electric dryer which is harsher,' says Ms Celina Yeo, Citygas' senior manager for marketing communications. It has sold 3,500 units since 2004.

A fan of gas dryers is part-time sales assistant Chua Saw Khim, 47. She has been using her gas dryer for five years and likes how it saves her time and energy compared to electric ones.

'It is especially handy when we return from a holiday and there're lots of laundry,' says Madam Chua. 'Laundry from a 10-day holiday can all be washed and dried within a day.'

For those who are considering a dryer but worry about high power bills, marketing consultant Tan Lay Teen, 46, who has been using dryers for 10 years, suggests: 'Dry clothes in the dryer and take them out to air when they are half-dried.'

For professional help on laundry, peruse this list of laundry services in Singapore.



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