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3 HANG DRY ALL LAUNDRY

This action focuses on reducing home energy by hanging all laundry to dry instead of using a clothes dryer.

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WHY?

Clothes dryers are typically the second-biggest electricity-using appliance after the refrigerator, costing about $85 to operate annually. According to the California Energy Commission Consumer Energy Center, over its expected lifetime of 18 years, the average clothes dryer will cost approximately $1,530 to operate.

The energy efficiency of a clothes dryer is measured by a term called the energy factor. It’s a rating somewhat similar to miles per gallon for a car - but in this case, the measure is pounds of clothing per kilowatt-hour of electricity. The minimum energy factor for a standard capacity electric dryer is 3.01. For gas dryers, the minimum energy factor is 2.67, and, yes, the rating for gas dryers is provided in kilowatt-hours, even though the primary source of fuel is natural gas. (Consumer Energy Center). Unlike most other types of appliances, clothes dryers don’t vary much in the amount of energy used from model to model. That’s why clothes dryers are not required to display Energy Guide labels. They’re also not listed in the ENERGY STAR®’s database. A typical dryer uses anywhere from 2.1 kWh/use to 6.8 kWh/use depending on the model and heat settings.

Data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) shows that 82% of households in the United States use a clothes dryer in the home. The breakdown is as follows (from the 2005 Residential Energy Consumption Survey):

1 load each week 6.5%
2-5 loads each week 35.1%
6-9 loads each week 30.4%
10-15 loads each week 8.4%
More than 15 loads each week 2.2%
Do not use a clothes dryer 17.4%

What Americans NeedIn addition, an interesting study conducted by Pew Research Center in 2009 shows which appliances are considered to be a neccessity and which are considered to be luxuries which they could do without. The bar graph to the right shows what percentage of people consider each item to be a neccesity they could not do without. As you can see, a clothes dryer is 3rd on the list with 66% of people considering it to be a neccesity, higher than a cell phone, high speed internet or a dishwasher.

There is clearly a feeling that clothes dryers are considered to be a neccessity in current society, making this action an interesting and relevant experiment for many participants.

Obviously, clothes drying energy can be eliminated entirely through hanging all laundry to dry on a clothesline. In addition, clothes will last quite a bit longer when allowed to dry naturally rather than with extreme heat. This action calls for participants to hang dry all laundry throughout the course of the project.


how to do this action:

Line-drying is accomplished most quickly if you are able to hang clothes outside using solar energy and wind, but can also be accomplished indoors with a little more patience . Create a space in your home to install a permanent clothes line, or create one which can be rolled up and hung somewhere when not in use.

Make sure all clothes are hung properly without wrinkles so it is less likely that an iron will be needed after drying (which would defeat the purpose of reducing energy). To lessen wrinkles, give each item a good shake and once pinned to the line. Give the bottom corners a good tug to pull out more wrinkles.

To prevent fading from the sun, place your clothesline in a breezy shaded area. Conversely, if you are hoping to sun bleach your white laundry run your line north/south to get the best exposure to sunlight. Hang the ones that need the most bleaching on the outside lines if you have four or more lines.

Some stretchy clothes like sweaters and other knit garments should not be line dried. If the care label says to dry flat, lay on a table or couch arm over a towel to dry instead.

If necessary, place items such as towels in a dryer for 5-10 minutes before line drying to allow them to dry while retaining softness.


what will be measured?

KEY QUESTIONS

QUANTITATIVE QUESTION: How much energy can be saved by hanging all laundry to dry rather than using a clothes dryer?

QUALITATIVE QUESTION: How does the experience of hanging dry all laundry affect your happiness, convenience, health and costs?

BASELINE WEEK TRACKING

QUANTITATIVE
During the baseline tracking week before the project begins, use the corresponding spreadsheet (E3_BASELINE) to keep track of how many loads of laundry are being done in a typical week (if no laundry was done, report a typical laundry week’s worth) and what the potential energy savings are for line-drying vs. appliance drying.

QUALITATIVE


Qualitative Scale

Using the above scale as a visual, rate each of the following criteria on the spreadsheet (E3_BASELINE) as it relates to your current clothes drying habits:

  • 1. SATISFACTION/HAPPINESS
    (Overall, how much enjoyment or dissatisfaction do you get out of doing and completing this behavior?)

  • 2. CONVENIENCE
    (How easy/difficult and accessible/inaccessible is this behavior for you to do and complete?)

  • 3. HEALTH
    (How healthy/unhealthy and safe/unsafe does this behavior make you feel?)

  • 4. COST
    (How much does this behavior cost? Use positive numbers for being above average and negative numbers for being below average and zero for being average.)

IMPLEMENTATION PHASE TRACKING

QUANTITATIVE
Keep a log and tally the number of loads that would have been dried using a clothes dryer and are instead being line dried. Use the corresponding spreadsheet E3_QUANTITATIVE) to calculate the energy savings.

QUALITATIVE
Part 1 - Ranking


Qualitative Scale

Using the above scale as a visual, rate each of the following criteria on each day that you do a load of laundry on the spreadsheet (E3_QUALITATIVE). Your answers should not be rated in comparison to your baseline week, but in general as a reflection of how you are feeling.

  • 1. SATISFACTION/HAPPINESS
    (Overall, how much enjoyment or dissatisfaction do you get out of doing and completing this behavior?)

  • 2. CONVENIENCE
    (How easy/difficult and accessible/inaccessible is this behavior for you to do and complete?)

  • 3. HEALTH
    (How healthy/unhealthy and safe/unsafe does this behavior make you feel?)

  • 4. COST
    (How much does this behavior cost? Use positive numbers for being above average and negative numbers for being below average and zero for being average.)

Part 2 - Blogging
Keep a narrative log of your experiences changing this action in your life. Where did you set up your line drying? Did you find that you had a good spot to do this or did you struggle with finding an appropriate place? Why or why not? What benefits did you find with line-drying? What did you struggle with?


resources

For some excellent tips and further information on how to maximize energy efficiency of drying clothes visit:
Consumer Energy Center.

Non-profit organization and website dedicated to line-drying clothes: Drying For Freedom.

Energy Information Administration's Residential Energy Consumption Survey.

ACTION SPREADSHEETS

The spreadsheets referred to above can be found in the Excel file at the following link:

E3_Hang Dry All Laundry Spreadsheet

If you prefer to enter your responses by hand, printable PDFs of each spreadsheet can be found at the following links (at the end of the project, all data will have to be entered into the Excel spreadsheet):

E3_BASELINE
E3_QUANTITATIVE
E3_QUALITATIVE