Right before I wrote this article, I did something that saved me a small amount of money. Not a huge amount by any means, but a small amount. That small amount of money is saved every time I do a normal thing that every person (at least that I know) does at least occasionally: laundry.
Back in the good old days (in other words, way before my time), people used to hang up all of their clothing to dry on lines in their backyards, on balconies, or wherever they could find space. This was just the way things worked. Then, modern technology made it possible to put those clothes in a little box instead, which then dried them through the magic of electricity. Mildly convenient? I guess. Totally backwards logic? Most definitely.
The way an electric clothes dryer works is by taking in a massive amount of electricity, converting said electricity into heat, and then blowing that heat into the clothing while spinning it around. All of the heat and humidity is then quickly whisked away, outside your house.
So let me get this straight. Instead of allowing nature to dry clothing after washing, these “modern marvels” use all kinds of electricity to dry our clothes slightly faster and in a more compact space.
How much electricity? A lot. Have you ever heard of an Energy Star dryer? Of course not, because they don’t exist. Turns out, they all use roughly the same amount of energy (depending on size of the machine). I’ve seen numbers ranging from 30 to 50 cents per load of laundry worth of electricity. Like I said at the beginning of this article, not much. But add that up, and it becomes a substantial amount of money. The average US household does 6-7 loads of laundry per week, run the math and you could be paying as much as $12 per month of electricity just for that one little privilege. That’s $144 dollars per year. And that is just with the average family. Think about if you had a large family that required multiple loads per day to keep up with things! I as a single person see less than half that above amount in savings seeing as my laundry needs are pretty small, but its still a good chunk of change. I’ll take the fifty or sixty bucks I’m going to save this year by line drying my clothes and go to a concert or eat for a week or two.
Line drying is extremely easy to do, and requires maybe an added minute more than your typical laundry routine. If you have a large backyard or other space to hang up big lines, than do it. Then just get some clothespins and watch your checking account diminish slightly slower.
If you, like me, live in an apartment or other such establishment and lack a place to hang clothes outside, all hope is not lost. In fact, its almost better if you do. You can buy a piece of foldable plastic at a Walmart/Target/wherever you shop and get an expandable clothes rack. These handy little things fold up for easy storage, and then expand for tons of drying rack awesomeness. Most seem to have around 30 feet of potential drying rack to use. If you are feeling even more adventurous, you can build your own. There are several different methods to doing that, including using wood, rope, and pvc piping. I built mine with PVC, and while it isn’t the sturdiest option, it gets the job done. I’m going to be posting an Instructable on how I made mine soon, and will update this post when it is live.
So what did we learn today? That using an electric clothes dryer is very expensive, and that you can very easily line dry to save money, and the environment. This is a classic example of how sometimes the old ways of doing things are the good ways to do things.