Drying Your Clothes with Less Energy

As the weather warms up, I’m starting to really wish for a clothesline. Only one reason one hasn’t been installed yet:

We’re renting.

We did think about it last year, and right about when we were starting to get winter rain was when my husband figured out a way he thinks he can manage it. Our budget is tight enough that we have to do this as cheaply as possible, and many of the freestanding solutions I saw were out of our budget last year.

This year the delay is different. With my husband out of work, we may only be here through April, then into the *eek!* inlaws’ house. And there’s no way we feel comfortable committing to a clothesline until we know we’re staying long enough to really reap the benefit.

Using a clothesline has a lot of advantages. First is how much you save on energy. Clothes dryers use a lot of it. According to energy.gov, a clothesdryer uses 1800–5000 watts. If you wash a mere 4 loads a week with 45 minutes drying time for each load, that’s 187.2 kilowatt-hours per year, and at $0.085/ kWH, is $23.88/year on the low side.

But most families use their dryers far more than that. Heck, I can end up doing a load a day if my son’s going through a bedwetting phase. With 4 people in the house there’s always enough to make it a full load immediately.

Winters here are mild enough that much of the time we could even dry the clothes outside. But there are indoor systems that you can use too, I know. My mom even had a clothesrack when I was a kid.

Of course, if you do have a dryer and just prefer to use it, there are things you can do to save energy. Keeping the lint trap clear is a big one that most of us know, yet some neglect.

Your washing machine can also make a difference. The newer horizontal axis ones are more efficient in many ways, but they can be better at getting water out of your clothes as they dry, so there’s less work for the dryer to do. But with other washers you can get a similar effect by doing an extra spin cycle at the end. More moisture will come out.

Replacing your dryer when the time comes is one of the best ways to cut back on its energy use. Look for one that has a moisture dectector, which is pretty common now, I think.  Look for the most energy efficient you can get on your budget.

I’m very hopeful that we’ll get things figured out here so that we can stay at least another year or so. If we manage that, I’m going to try to get that clothesline up this year!

6 replies on “Drying Your Clothes with Less Energy”

  1. Carrie says:

    I stopped using the dryer several months ago and don’t miss it. I’m fortunate enough to be able to have a clothesline, but all winter I was too lazy to hang wet laundry in the cold, so I went to IKEA and bought two of their Frost folding indoor racks ($15 apiece and they hold a LOT of laundry!) and used those instead. 🙂

  2. Stephanie says:

    Oh, very nice! I can’t figure why I didn’t think of indoor racks until recently; guess I got too focused on outdoor ones. And thanks for letting me know IKEA carries some good ones. They’re about a 45 minute drive from me, so I’ll have to look at that sometime when I’m in the area anyhow.

  3. CyberCelt says:

    Great post! I have line dried my clothes forever. I used to hand wash them as well. My clothes last so long, you would not imagine. I have a rack like your pictured and then I hang everything else on the exercise equipment we don’t use. LOL

  4. Steve says:

    Interesting. I see you say that “With my husband out of work…” And I see on your About page that he was raised “conservative Republican.” Is he beginning to get the sense that, with our economy in the tank after seven years of absolutely disastrous Republican rule, maybe the ideas behind Conservative Republicanism are simply horse-puckey? Maybe Republicans have destroyed our country with their self-righteous but very wrong ideas?

    As a publisher of a blog myself, I’m sure you won’t post this comment. As I was stumbling around the web, I found your site and looked around it. And this comment is what come to mind.

    Feel free to not publish it.

  5. Stephanie says:

    Well Steve, the only problem with your comment is that it’s not terribly relevant. Aside from that, well, as you can see I posted it.

    My husband has long been fighting his Republican background. He considers himself unaligned with any party, but when it gets down to it, he’s still more likely to go conservative. But we’re working on that. I call him on it and give him the viewpoints he hasn’t considered. He detests Hillary Clinton, but has become intrigued by what Barack Obama says. I’m holding out hope for him in this election!

  6. […] U.S. Department of Energy’s site. I’m not surprised to see that they neglect to mention line drying clothes at this point, but the rest of the advice is […]

Comments are closed.