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Why You Can't Afford NOT to Air Dry Your Clothes

by Household Essentials • May 09, 2017

We all know we’re supposed to be saving energy.  What we may not know is that we can’t afford NOT to.  We are not talking about noble goals of a sustainable planet for present and future generations.  We're talking about basic math.
According to the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, as of June 2016, energy costs consumed between 5% and 22% of after-tax income for most American families (1). 

22%?!  Yikes.
And the International Energy Agency (IEA), the organization dedicated to measuring and monitoring global energy trends, has pointed out that household energy prices remain close to 10-year highs (87).
Oh.  Well, that's cheery.
So, we are glad that global energy intensity is improving, albeit slowly.  And less wasteful energy patterns worldwide are fabulous.   But from a very personal, standing on the front porch (back porch, in the door way, on the grass, on the street)— egads!    Scarier, still?  That 22% of income spent on energy costs is even higher in other countries.   What the . . . ?

Suddenly, that mixed bag of feelings we have for air drying clothing and other cost-cutting measures doesn't seem so mixed!  There's a lot of little things we can do, and some have a MUCH BIGGER IMPACT on the bottom line than others.

Unplugging unused electronics?  Helpful, but not shattering.
Keeping lights off?  Never hurts, but not likely to make a big difference unless you keep your Christmas and holiday lights up year round. 
Going off grid?  That'll do it!  But it's a little impractical for most of us.

That leaves 2 major ways to impact your energy costs this year.  And you can start both today.


Just 2 degrees up in the summer and down in the winter can mean serious savings in your wallet.  It doesn’t seem like much on paper, but bumping your central air settings from 70 to 72 during the summer and from 70 to 68 in the winter gives your heater and air conditioner that much less work to do (and that much less $ to burn through).  Even in much more efficent homes, 2 degrees can mean savings.
If you’ve already made the 68/72 split, try 2 degrees more: 74 in the summer and 66 in the winter!

Then, to keep comfortable, borrow a leaf from your grandparents’ lifestyle book:
Winter: Cozy up in sweaters and blankets.  Think of the Scandinavian’s expert use of hygge coziness.  Use a space heater to add heat only to the room you are in while you’re in it. 
Spring/Fall: Dress in layers.  Open windows and place a box fan in front of it to draw cooler outside air inside.  Open windows on opposite ends of rooms and the house to create cross breezes (it’s internal air, courtesy of physics!). 
Summer:  Use fans to keep yourself comfortable indoors.  Spend time outdoors under a tree: grassy shaded areas can be more than 10 degrees cooler than their surroundings!  (Also consider planting a tree to shade your house for those hotter summer months!). 


No fibbing: in the appliance world, the electric clothes dryer is an energy hog.  It is second only to the refrigerator in most households!  Even energy efficient dryers (which have to run more than once to dry anything heavier than sock) suck up some serious joules.
Line drying clothing costs nothing but a little time after the initial investment in getting set up.  Clothesline has scaled up and down, too: from elabrate retracting umbrella models to the simple folding indoor drying racks that have been around for ages.  They come in all shapes and sizes, from purely outdoor use to purely indoor use and some even blend in betweenSet them in concrete or put them in the bathtub.  Dryers go anythwere, these days.

The benefits?  Lower electric (or gas) bills from NOT running the energy-sucking dryer.  Longer lived clothing (it's drying that fades colors and strains seams most).  Fewer items shrunk by accident.  More hands helping with laundry (we hope).  Less time spent folding (at least when clothing is worn right off the rack!). 

So what do you think?  Are 2 small changes worth a few extra % points NOT going toward your energy bills this year?  Adjust your thermostat and break our the clothes drying rack, and let us know!


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American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity. “Energy Expenditures by American Families”. PDF. 8 May 2017.
International Energy Agency (IEA). “Energy Efficiency Market Report 2016”. PDF. 8 May 2017.