Friday, April 06, 2007

Dehydrating our laundry

In my ongoing quest to reduce our electricity usage, here's the latest report:
January 2006:  1255 KWH used
January 2007: 793 KWH used

February 2006: 1169 KWH used
February 2007: 618 KWH used
That's a reduction of 42% (and about $80 off the two bills). Woohoo!

And that was even before the clothesline was installed.

I learned an odd thing last week: There is no such thing as an Energy Star clothes dryer. According to their web site, "ENERGY STAR does not label clothes dryers because most dryers use similar amounts of energy." Weird.

So I did something the other night that was probably pretty high on the dumbness scale. I drove 20 miles to pick up a clothes dryer, while it was lightly snowing and very windy, in a truck with very bad brakes. How many levels of "Duh" does that constitute?

Well, Lowe's might have beaten me on the "Duh" scale. They didn't have the dryer that we'd already paid for, and that they told us we could pick up on Wednesday. Did they call to tell me it didn't come in? No. Did they tell me when I got there? No. Did I know yet, 30 minutes after arriving? No. Did they know when it would arrive? Not a clue. Did I get a refund and take my business elsewhere? Absolutely.

We got essentially the same dryer, for $50 less, from the Sears store at the other end of the parking lot.

But the clothesline will be getting a workout whenever weather permits. We think it actually works faster than the dryer anyway.

And the best part about the clothesline? Now that we've got it nice and taut (thanks to a fence stretcher), whenever the wind blows hard enough, it creates just the right oscillation to make old Sci-Fi spaceship sound effects in our house. The first time I heard the high, gradually varying "woowoowoowoowoowoowoo" sound, I was pretty sure I'd look out in the back yard and see some skinny grayish dude with a big head and gigantic black eyes staring back at me. Fortunately or unfortunately, it was just the clothesline blowing in the wind. At least as far as I know...

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At 4/06/2007 10:12 PM, Blogger JBTW said...

Awesome energy conservation on your part. Keep it up! I'm sure hanging your clothes out will help all the more. (So long as spring comes & actually sticks around...) Always loved that smell -- especially sheets during the summer. Wish we had a clothes line... I've tried using my drying rack outside a few times, but the whole thing ends up on the ground after a few gusts of wind. Oh well... good luck with it!

At 4/06/2007 11:17 PM, Blogger Robbyn said...

My grandma used the clothesline almost exclusively, and I think it was years and years before my parents managed to spirit away the old washtub with mangle (is that what the wringer-thingy was called?) It ate buttons like crazy.
I think the only thing Grandma ever used the washer for was to fluff the towels she had mostly dried on the line.

Their clothesline was not taut. It may have been the sort that rolls up when not in use, and pulls out when needed...attached to a post. It was some sort of plastic-coated cable type line stretched between two heavy (think railroad tie but thinner) T posts that were likely cemented into the ground. It was longggg, too, but they had these metal prop poles for the middle, where otherwise it would sag, and you could prop them up and they'd hold all that laundry well off the ground.

And she always ironed her, they smelled AND felt great!

At 4/06/2007 11:18 PM, Blogger Robbyn said...

oops, I mean the only thing she used the DRYER for was to fluff towels.....errrrr :)

At 4/06/2007 11:45 PM, Blogger BurdockBoy said...

That's quite the reduction. Great job.

Is it from conservation or from installing CF bulbs and new appliances?

Our KWH range between 250-500 a month, but usually around 350-400. I contribute the low use to the lights we installed. We do have a propane water heater so our energy use is higher than just electric and we have wood heat.

We slacked off with hanging up clothes. I have a really nice indoor clothes hanger and we have passive solar windows, but I admit to using the dryer a lot this winter. If spring ever arrives the line outside will be calling.

At 4/07/2007 8:11 AM, Blogger e4 said...

JBTW - Yeah, I'm certain that the dryer is a huge energy hog. It's funny - the clothes feel different off the line, and it reminds me of childhood. I guess my mom must not have used fabric softener...

robbyn - I looked for that vinyl coated cable stuff, but the only place I could find it wanted an arm and a leg for it for some reason. The line we bought is super stretchy, which is dumb considering that it's sold specifically as "clothesline". It's taken several stretching sessions to get it to stay taut.

BurdockBoy - CF bulbs in every socket, power strips on electronics, no more aquarium, telling the computer to hibernate after 30 minutes, more effort to turn stuff off when not in use and a couple other minor things.

Honestly, I'm not sure what else is still sucking that many watts. Fridge, freezer, washer, dryer, pellet stove, well/sump/septic pumps... that's about all the big stuff left.

We do have 4 people, so the dryer had been getting a regular workout, but it still seems higher than I expected.

At 4/08/2007 1:37 PM, Blogger Madcap said...

What a hoot about the noise! I get the same thing from some wire I placed around the porch skirting in order to support some (non-thriving) vines.

At 4/08/2007 9:43 PM, Blogger Wendy said...

I love my clothesline. I use it whenever it's sunny out, no matter what the temperature. I've even tromped through a foot of snow to hang out the washing.

We lost power recently, and my nine year old and I discussed how cool it would be to get an old wringer (manual, not electric) washer ;).

At 4/09/2007 6:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello E4...I am jbtw's mom. Greetings from Cleveland. Keep up the good work re. conservation. I'm a big proponent of clotheslines (and cloth diapers, rags-not paper towels, etc). Nothing smells better than line-dried sheets! In the winter, hang your laundry in the cellar--it helps to add humidity to dry winter air. Many things do dry more quickly outside than by using the drier and especially in the spring (will we ever see it?)--nothing feels better than a little sunshine on your face. betg

At 4/10/2007 2:51 PM, Blogger Leslie said...

WOW what a reduction! Whoot!

We have been dryerless for almost two years. We hang our clothes outside even in freezing weather. The humidity is so low the clothes dry even faster sub-freezing than in the heat of summer. Sublimation rules :)

At 4/11/2007 6:56 PM, Blogger Morgan said...

Remember to take your clothes in in a timely manner. Something I never remember to do.


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