Free & Foolproof Energy Solutions “Online”

Jul 16, 2010 by

OK, I confess: I got your attention with a headline that’s slightly deceptive. The “free & foolproof” part is true, but the online solutions have nothing to do with the digital realm where we spend so much time. “Online” literally means on line — a clothes line, that old-fashioned, low-tech device used for drying clothes in the open air.

Here are the facts: Using electric clothes dryers accounts for nearly 6% of all electricity consumed in the U.S. Since about 90% of all households have clothes driers, the home energy savings potential here is pretty significant. By air-drying just half of your wash loads, you’ll save about $70 per year and cut annual carbon emissions by over 1000lbs.

Clothes lines used to be a predictable part of our backyard landscape, but they disappeared as household appliances advanced. Today clothes lines are making a comeback. In communities across the country, folks are rediscovering the advantages that our grandparents knew so well. If you decide to give your electric clothes dryer a rest, here’s what you can enjoy:

  • Zero emissions. The only energy required to dry your clothes will be what you expend hanging them up and taking them down.
  • No maintenance, no operating costs, no breakdowns. Low-tech = high reliability and surprising efficiency. On a sunny day with a mild breeze, clothes can dry outdoors just as quickly as they’d dry in an electric clothes dryer.
  • Improved acoustics. Instead of the mechanical thrum of your electric dryer, you’ll hear birds chirping and clothes flapping in the wind if your line is outside.
  • Fresh smelling clothes. If you’ve got an outdoor line, your clothes are going to smell fresher; they’ll retain much less residual odor from soap and bleach.
  • Longer fabric life. Air-drying doesn’t beat up your clothes like an electric dryer does.
  • Sunlight as a stain remover. That’s right –direct sunlight can work like a mild bleach. For this reason you may want to keep colors out of direct sun.
  • Clothes pins. Simple, functional, timeless, beautiful. What more can I say?
  • A new way to meditate. Your grandparents will be smiling down on you, and you’ll have some contemplative time that didn’t exist before this new online adventure.

NOTE #1: Believe it or not, some communities don’t allow backyard clothes lines. But environmentally concerned citizens are often able to get these regulations overturned.

NOTE #2: Go online to get on line. There are plenty of websites that sell clothes lines, indoor drying racks and associated products.

About Tim Snyder: A journalist specializing in sustainability, energy efficiency and  home building topics, Snyder is a former executive editor of Fine Homebuilding magazine. He recently produced a green remodeling manual for the EPA and a chapter on “Smart Shelter” for The Whole Green Catalog, published by Rodale Press. Currently he is the lead writer and training resource manager for Dr. Energy Saver, a nationwide network of energy auditors who also perform a comprehensive range of prioritized energy-saving improvements.

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