One way to cut back on energy use is to air dry the laundry. This works for most clothing, and may actually reduce wear and tear, since the lint in the dryer is evidence of loss of fibers when clothes are machine-dried.
But the scratchiness of air-dried towels has not gone over well in our household. One trick I've heard of is to air-dry towels, then put them in a dryer with a tennis ball or two, using the unheated fluff cycle to soften them up. Worth a try.
One can actually buy specially designed balls to use in the dryer with wet clothes. They reportedly speed the drying.