In my quest to reduce our energy consumption to help save money, we’ve done a lot of work on the house and installed solar panels to generate power. You can see the list of posts on this topic here.
This weekend we decided to try another technique to reduce our power consumption even further. We wanted to see if we could slow down or stop using the clothes dryer as much by using a clothes line or an “outdoor dryer” as some call it.
Research into the topic lead me into a number of points of view about drying clothes outside. on the plus side it does cut down on energy consumption and it can leave your clothes smelling fresher and feeling crisp.
And apparently it is a wide open subject with a lot of different contraptions to use. Drying apparatuses can range from $20 to $200 for the top end clotheslines.
To test if we would actually be motivated to dry clothes outside we opted for a trial approach with a less permanent installation. One post I read somewhere suggested using an pipe for your clothesline pole that would also accommodate an outdoor umbrella if you want to use one some time.
Ding! I took the idea one step further and purchased a portable umbrella stand for the $39 aluminum clothesline we purchased at Home Depot. The clothesline has 197 feet of useable space on it so it was among the least expensive but largest capacity units. The only other item to purchase were clothespins. We got those at target for $1.54 for a pack of 50. We got a couple of packs.
And here is what the clothesline looks like all loaded up with clothes and towels.
Yesterday we only used a total of 8 kWh of power which is low even for us. I can only attribute the low consumption to the use of the fans in the house and the fact that we did not use the dryer at all. As a side note we produced the equivalent of 22 kWh of solar power. So we actually got money back from the power company.
A typical clothes dryer uses between 1,800 to 5,000 watts of power when it runs. From using our Energy Detective unit I know that our dryer uses around 2,900 watts when in use.
Considering that we do about five loads of clothes a week for Pam and I and the average load takes about an hour to dry, our dryer was consuming about 728 kWh per year. If we had kids in the house the consumption would be more like 1,500 kWh a year.
In my neck of the woods that would mean that to run the dryer costs between $86 to $177 a year, and our cost of power is cheap compared to other parts of the country. Depending on where you live that same level of usage would cost between $400 to $800 a year.
Today the forecast was for rain and thunderstorms so we moved the portable clothesline inside our covered porch. Luckily it has a celling fan on the porch on it so the fan would help to dry another load of towels and blankets even faster. The ceiling fan only uses 30 watts of power. That’s a huge difference from 2,800 watts used by the clothes dryer. The fan helps to circulate air to dry things even faster.
Here is a short video I made this morning to show you the clothesline in operation on the porch.
Some Related Videos
If you can’t see the videos above, click here.
The bottom line is that hanging clothes on a clothesline can save money, preserve clothes, help clothes to smell fresher, keep the house cooler, reduce energy consumption, and lower your cost of dryer products.
If you want to try the approach of using a pole in the ground to place your outdoor clothes dryer in, consider making sure that it can also handle a portable umbrella. If you place the pole adjacent to a patio, then not only will you avoid having to walk across potentially wet or dewey grass to get to your clothesline, but it makes it the perfect place for a portable umbrella when sitting outside.
You can even find clothesline covers that can turn the clothesline into a protected environment but can give you shade when you want to turn it into an umbrella.
If you have a deck, you might want to try my portable approach. Just make sure you get an umbrella stand that will support your clothesline and not be so heavy that you can’t move it.
The best online resource I found to give you an overview of all your non-dryer drying options is this page on air dry washing.