Hey Mr Green,
I was in the yard one evening while I had clothes in the dryer in the basement. While watching the warm air from the dryer vent pour outside, I thought, "What a waste." Is there any way to channel all that warm air back into the home during winter? –Kathleen in Weirton, West Virginia
You can install a device called a "dryer duct diverter." It costs only a few dollars and works much like registers in ordinary heating systems. If you want to vent the dryer's hot air into your house, you flip a damper that blocks the hot air from going outside, sending it into the house instead.
Sounds like a clever solution for saving energy, but it does violate the building code (which requires dryers to vent to the outside)? You're perfectly free to bend the code, like millions of people do all the time. But remember, the diverter might not be a perfect solution and can be dangerous if hooked to a gas dryer. Because a dryer's main chore is to extract water from the clothes, the device could vent excess moisture that could cause mold and other damage to your house -- and lungs. It can also blow lint into the room if its lint trap isn't properly maintained. So if you try a diverter, stop using it if it makes things damp or fuzzy instead of just warm.
The diverter should not be used with a gas dryer because exhaust from the gas flame could contain carbon monoxide. Symptoms of CO exposure range from headache, fatigue, nausea, dizziness, to mental confusion, loss of muscular coordination, loss of consciousness, and, ultimately death—as the Consumer Product Safety Commission starkly says. (There's even a theory that Edgar Allan Poe's sorry mental and physical state was caused by CO from gas lamps, not drugs or liquor.)
Some sources claim that using the diverter with a gas dryer is safe if a carbon monoxide detector says so. Call me a coward, but I still wouldn't take the chance. Fanatic as I am about energy conservation, I'm not willing to die for it, or risk scrambling my brain to the point at which my poetry gets as lame as Poe's.