I know. Sounds crazy! But here's an article from EcoGeek that makes it look like it's not too far off in the future:
Generally when people offer up miracle devices from backyard and basement tinkering, we're pretty skeptical. But it's hard to argue with Michael Brown. Especially when he hooks his "Dryer Miser" up to a Whirlpool dryer, turns it on, and pulls out dry clothes using half as much energy as the exact same dryer without his device.
The device, really, is fairly simple. Instead of using a traditional air-in-contact-with-heating-coils heater, it uses an oil as the heat-transfer medium. The oil needs less energy to heat, and, once heated, holds onto the heat better. That oil is then used to heat the air that gets blown into the drying drum.
The device is so much more efficient that it can be plugged into a regular 110 V plug (instead of 220s now required by dryers.) Considering how simple this is, it's a marvel (or perhaps a travesty) that GE or Whirlpool didn't think of it first. Additionally, the heating unit only ever reaches about 150 F, since the heat-transfer is so much more efficient. Traditional dryers have to heat their elements up to 1000 F in order to reach optimal efficiency, resulting in about 15,000 household fires each year.
The device can be installed by a technician in 30 minutes at a total cost of around $300, which would be recouped in less then four years. A quick calculation based on the number of households with electric dryers (around 80 million) and the average amount spent on electricity for drying clothes a year ($85 per household) shows that this device could indeed save several billion dollars per year just in America.
Already Brown is in talks with a major European manufacturer to integrate the device into new units, and he's raised several million dollars in angel funding. He's also talking to the EPA about getting his dryers Energy Star rated. Up until now, dryers have been so inefficient that not a single one on the market has been awarded with the Energy Star label.
While it would have been easy to call his dryers the most efficient on Earth. Brown always qualifies the statement with "aside from the sun." And that's a touch of modesty that, to me anyway, is very welcome.
(Hank Green, EcoGeek, Feb. 15, 2008)