Chelsea Green Publishing

Chelsea Green Blog

Cash Saving Tip of the Summer: Throw Out Your Dryer

Behold the classic domestic duos of the past: Ricki and Lucy. Ozzie and Harriet. Bennifer. Tom and Jerry. Bush and Cheney. And most important of all, not to mention the most seriously detrimental to human society—um, make that second most serious—the washer and the dryer.

Readers may doubt the importance of separating the latter, but a divorce must be arranged. The dryer, as it were, is an energy-sucking, money-vaporizing, obsolete object that has served its last purpose. Feel free to recycle it, make better use of it, or fill it with water and use as a pleasant place for baby ducks to frolic in your yard. But seriously, if you want to save money this summer, you may have to part with your Maytag and those handy BounceTM sheets, and embrace other ways to dry your clothes.

According to Stephen and Rebekah Hren, authors of The Carbon-Free Home: 36 Remodeling Projects to Help Kick the Fossil-Fuel Habit, throwing out your dryer is a wicked way to save money this summer.

Electric clothes dryers are a colossal waste of energy. They often draw around 6,000 watts. Six thousand! This is more than a typical heat pump or electric water heater, usually thought of as the hogs of the household. Simply put, you should not use this appliance. Gas dryers are more efficient because they use no electric-resistant heat, but they can still draw around 720 watts. That’s a lot, equivalent to about 60 compact fluorescents (not to mention the energy of the gas). You should plan on getting rid of electric heat dryers and hopefully gas-fired dryers as well if your climate allows.

Solar clothes drying shows this energy source at its finest. It’s a great example of simplicity combined with effectiveness. Hang up something wet in the sun, come back in a few hours, and voilà, it’s dry, clean, and fresh smelling. Like everything, having the proper tools to access this resource goes a very long way in making sure it’s effective and easy to do. Some of this depends on your climate and your own personal habits. We realize some parts of the country have very little sun in the winter, but if you set aside a bit of room, even in a closet or a spare bedroom, clothes hung on racks will dry fairly quickly in a heated house.

Just for the record, I am not an eco-psycho. I am a recent convert to the drying rack, and I choose to keep it covered in wet clothes, by a breezy window facing the sun. Actually, to be honest, I was sort of forced to shun the electric dryer—my boyfriend won’t let me turn the damn thing on. He’s a better man than I, with weightier morals. So yesterday while he was out of town, I cheated. I gathered together a bundle of cut-offs, sweatpants, and dirty socks and thought, Oh yes. Now’s my time. I’m gonna get my clothes real warm and dry. But as I began to open our dryer (which I’m about to get rid of), I caught sight of the indoor drying rack, waiting in the sun. I remembered the last batch of laundry, and how it smelled like clean grass. I thought of my electric bill. About my rapidly depleting checking account. The choice, in the end, is actually pretty obvious, and after a couple times using solar drying techniques (clotheslines included), my lazy reflex wore off. I now see it as meditating and investing in my solvent future. Out it goes!

Here are some tips on solar drying from the Hrens. Try these at home!

  • Retractable clothesline: An excellent tool for the space-constrained. These come in a variety of lengths and are very simple to install indoors or out. Consider putting these inside near a passive solar wall. The sun will dry the clothes and raise the humidity of the room in wintertime, making it more comfortable inside.
  • Indoor drying rack: Avoid the cheaper models, as they can fall apart rather quickly. These are generally collapsible and can stand alone or be wall-mounted. I recommend having at least two. Being able to place these in sun or near a woodstove will greatly speed up drying time in the winter.
  • Outdoor drying rack: If you’ve got the room outdoors, a permanent outdoor rack is a very effective method for drying clothes, even when the temperatures barely get above freezing. It requires some time to mount properly, but it should function well for decades.
  • Clothespins: These are a necessity and come in two varieties: split or spring. Determine your preference and make sure you have plenty. Hanging clothes from pins rather than folding them over the line greatly speeds drying time and greatly reduces the odds that any clothing will fall off and get dirty. Folding clothes generally means two sides of the clothing are not exposed to the air at all. This more than doubles drying times.


Dear Humans: Listen to Ben Kilham. Signed, The Bears.

When it comes to fatal human-bear encounters, too often it’s the bear who ends up on the losing end. The most recent story occurred in Thetford, Vt., where a hungry bear with slim pickings began seeking out food in town. After unsuccessful attempts to thwart the bear – known to bear rehab specialist and author […] Read More

Reimagining Restoration as a Radical Act

Finding ways to manage “invasive” species as we’ve come to know them has sparked a vigorous debate within conservation and restoration communities, as well as farmers, gardeners, and permaculturalists.In her thought-provoking book Beyond the War on Invasive Species, author Tao Orion urges us to rethink and reimagine restoration as a way to break out of […] Read More

Trust Your Unconsciousness: Elizabeth Marshall Thomas on Writing

Elizabeth Marshall Thomas is a New York Times-bestelling author, traveler, and astute observer of the natural world. In Dreaming of Lions, a paperback edition of her memoir, Thomas pens a powerful new afterword and a selection of photos from her extraordinary life is included. Below is an excerpt from her chapter about writing, and her […] Read More

Ask the Experts: Submit Your Permaculture Questions Now

Attention all growers, food-lovers, and green-living enthusiasts, we are once again celebrating Permaculture Month by putting our pioneering permaculture authors to work for you.Chelsea Green is proud to publish and distribute some of the most recognized, and award-winning, names in permaculture, and we’re making several of them available to our readers to answer any and all […] Read More

Recipe: Pascal Baudar’s Basic Wild Kimchi

Experiment with what you have, anything from the mustard family will work extremely well. Read More
Follow us
Get every new post delivered to your inbox
Join millions of other followers
Powered By WPFruits.com