Climbing Mount Laundry

Thanks to my sustainable- loving friend Maria for making me think about my laundry situation.  With two teenagers in the house our weekly laundering needs have been, to put it mildly, substantial.  Most weeks I descend to the basement laundry room to stare dejectedly at ‘Mount Laundry’, an intimidating pile about 4 feet tall and wide.  No amount of threats seems to deter my kids from creating an unreasonable amount of ‘dirty’ laundry. Just trying on a piece of clothing causes it to be considered ‘dirty’ and sent down the laundry shoot.  In all honesty my husband does most of the laundry but I hate to see him spend his entire weekend in the basement.  I try to get in a few loads during the week but am barely able to keep up. Besides, I have ulterior motives and other things on my ‘honey-do’ list for him to do. My strong and able son enhances his weight training by lugging at least 7 huge laundry baskets full of clean clothes, towels and bedding up two flights of stairs every week. So I can’t complain….

Maria mentioned she hasn’t used her clothes dryer in a long time and that the clothes dryer is one of the most energy expensive appliances in the house. I started thinking about how many loads of drying we do each week and how long the dryer runs in our house.  Jeans, towels, t-shirts, some of these load take an hour or more to dry and I still have to hang some of them to finish drying.

So I strung a line between two trees and started hanging!  Remember the smell of fresh laundry?  The stiff feeling of air dried towels and jeans?  It didn’t take long at all for clothes to dry  in the summer sun.  Nice! It took a little extra time to hang clothes, but not much more, and now the clothes were at least one flight of stairs closer to our second floor bedrooms.

My husband came home and calculated how much we probably spend each month to dry clothes based on kilowatt hours, watts, amps and all that  engineering and math stuff he does so well.  In the end he came up with the appalling figure of $60-70 per month!  This doesn’t even account for the fact that using the dryer heats up the house at the same time we are trying to cool it down with an air conditioner. This figure also doesn’t account for fact that we are reducing our coal consumption by the coal fired power plant in our neighborhood which supplies our energy.  So we are reducing our contribution to air pollution and mercury levels. Taking our dryer energy needs out of the coal equation doesn’t seem like much but it’s the awareness that counts.  The simple act of taking the time to care.  I know that sometimes small, simple solutions add up to big things over time. 

So now I’m very much aware that it just finished raining pretty hard and I forgot I have laundry on the line! Let’s just say tonight they are being both washed and dried and deal with it tomorrow.



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