This guest post is by Joe Provey with Dr. Energy Saver.
One of the guilty-feeling moments for anyone trying to live in a green and sustainable way is when you’re emptying a damp load of wash into a gas or electric clothes dryer. You know it’s going to use a lot of BTUs and send more carbon into the atmosphere – but it’s so convenient. The truth is that clothes dryers are probably even worse than you imagined. They use more energy while they’re running than any other household appliance, except for your water heater! Other heavy energy users, including the washer, fridge, dishwasher, and hair dryer, typically use half the energy of clothes dryers or less.
For several years, my wife and I have been cutting back on the use of our gas clothes dryer. It only takes a five or ten minutes and is generally a pleasant pastime – unless it really cold outside or the mosquitoes are biting. Here are some of the things we’ve learned that make hanging the wash easier.
- Hang closet poles near your washing machine if you have the space. When you take large articles, such as towels and bathroom mats out of the washer, simply drape them of the pole. The next day they’ll be dry, even if your laundry is in the basement. A very simple way to hang the poles is to buy some large screw hooks (large enough for the pole to fit in the crook or bend of the hook). Drive the hooks in the ceiling joists (not just the drywall) and rest the poles on them. You can achieve the same results with screw-eyes and loops of rope, into which you slip the pole. The poles are also handy for drying shirts and dresses on hangers.
- Install a drying rack near your washer and/or in a porch. Most models are inexpensive and fold up when not in use. They’re ideal for hanging small garments, such as socks and underwear.
- Install a clothesline outdoors. They come in many styles, including line-and-pulley systems, umbrella and parallel line “tree” type dryers, and racks that fasten to exterior walls and fold down when not in use. We have an all-aluminum rotary umbrella style that spins slowly with the wind for improved drying. Heavy-duty designs can be raised with a crank and hold up to 4 loads of wash.
- Treat yourself to quality laundry accessories to improve the clothes-hanging experience. Wood clothespins hold up better than plastic ones and have a nice feel to them. We leave ours on the lines to save time when hanging the next load, but many people – especially those who live in rainy climates – prefer to bring them inside to prevent the pins from becoming discolored and possibly staining clothing. Buy nice wicker baskets, but make sure they easily fit through doorways and stairways. Flexible plastic baskets are a smart idea as well. The handles can come together to make carrying easier and safer (you can see where you’re stepping). Choose non-slip hangers. We like the slim ones with the velvety coating. Keep a small table near the clothesline that you can rest your basket on while hanging clothes or to use while folding them.
A common misconception about clothes drying
Laundry does not need the sun or heat to become dry. It’s more a question of the relative humidity of the air around the clothes. While the sun and heat help, clothes will dry in the shade or at night – or even in a basement. Do remember, however, to take laundry inside when it’s about to rain!
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