Thursday, July 3, 2008

Newfangled Solar Powered Clothes Dryer

With all the talk lately of global climate change, and the spectre of $4.00+ per gallon gasoline costs, and the seemingly 1% per day increase of crude oil (it's not, but it's up 42% in the past 6 months), many water cooler conversations are turning to energy efficient cars. That topic is so obvious I won't even touch it here. If you're not already on board, then nothing I rant about here is going to make you sell your Ford Behemoth SUV. But I was surprised to hear a coworker say she was sick of looking at the ugly clothesline in the backyard of her newly purchased home. She can't wait to rip it out. Like a bass to a fly, I responded. I pointed out that using a clothesline to dry the family's clothes is probably the simplest thing she could do to reduce energy consumption in her home. Predictably, she looked at me as though I had suddenly started speaking Martian.

I was aware that some home owners covenants prohibited the use of "unsightly" clotheslines, but was unaware that in some cases entire towns had banned their use. I think people who buy houses that have restrictive covenants DESERVE all the pain that such things generate when they eventually want to buy that boat, or a pickup truck, or paint their house a fresher color, or plant a desired tree, only to find out (likely after the fact) that such a choice violates the covenant and their rabid neighbors complain. Which is one reason I live in a house built in 1943, in a neighborhood of houses built from 1908 to 1950 - no silly ass covenants. Yet I observe that my wife and I are the only ones I can see that use a clothesline, despite the fact that I live in a part of town where the residents are renowned as "granola heads" and hippies. Lots of bicycles and Prius owners in my 'hood.

Solar Power
Newfangled "Solar Powered" Clothes Dryer!

It strikes me as odd that many people are unwilling to use a clothesline. It's a bit more work than tossing the wet laundry in the dryer, but not much. Clothes come off the line a bit stiffer than when they've been fluffed with a dryer sheet. I suppose I could try Downy. But oh, do my clothes smell great after a few hours on the line in the sun! Every so often we get suckered and it rains while we have laundry out, but that just delays the process a bit, and we simply leve them out until they dry (again). The rainwater rinse is actually pretty nice.

A dryer is typically the second-biggest electricity-using appliance after the refrigerator, costing about $85 to operate annually. Check it out: Estimated Electical Usage of common household appliances

The amusing end to this post relates to the photo that prompted it. I was in the kitchen to pull dinner out of the oven, when I glanced out the window and saw the glorious late evening light on the clothesline. I turned off the oven and pivoted to go get my camera. Reena came walking in to the kitchen as I was walking out and I said in passing, "Can you pull dinner out of the oven?" She chuckled, and then I laughed as I heard the screen being pushed up on the kitchen window. SHE had grabbed her camera for exactly the same reason! We both got the shot in the last seconds before the light stopped dancing on the ropes.


  1. Im with you Nataraj on the need for us to become more eco friendly and reduce our energy needs where we can.
    I recently brought a new clothesline off this website that had heaps to choose from and styles that I had never even seen before.
    The use of clotheslines in my neighbourhood is banned to at the moment but I still sneak my portable clothesline outside to make use of the free clothes drying energy provided by the sun. Lets hope more people can adopt clotheslines and other energy saving devices.

  2. I've got one of them solar powered do-hickies in my backyard... an old sturdy 7 line metal behemoth that firmly cemented in to the ground, and likely has been since the house was built in 195?. Love that thing...

    And, what the hell is wrong with people that they would BAN a clothes line? Could we turn our attention to banning something that should be obliterated - like bigotry, or bad food? There are worse things than catching a peek of your neighbors giant granny panties.

  3. We just doubled the amount of line in our backyard for an upgraded solar dryer hehehe...Mike made me a highly engineered ;) post with line that juts out from the side of our shed. It's kinda cool, and saved us the work of digging for a post. We also had geothermal heating and cooling installed this spring. We utilized the big dig in our yard to plant another 20x50 veggie garden and a wildflower prairie!
    See you in about 47 days at the munich!

    Kelly Boed


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