Go Green and Save Money – Line Drying vs Clothes Dryer

line drying versus machine dryer

We all know that it costs money to buy and run electrical or gas appliances. Most of us are also aware that using these energy sources also comes at a cost to the environment. I used to think that I couldn’t afford to go green because everything was more expensive, and this is still the case in some instances. However, drying your clothes just happens to be one job where you can save money by using the options that help to protect the planet.

It will help to know that clothes dryers account for a huge 12% of the total energy usage of the average household.

First, let’s look at the costs associated with using a clothes dryer. They are very hungry when it comes to the amount of power they use. In fact, dryers are one of the most power-hungry of all household appliances, only being beaten to the top position by the refrigerator.

However, a medium size dryer, used only twice in a week, will actually consume more power than a medium 2 door fridge that has a 4 to 5 star rating and is used constantly.

Currently, nearly 80% of all households in the United States have a clothes dryer. Clothes dryers can be powered by electricity (67.2%), gas (19.4%0 or LPG/propane (0.9%). Electric clothes dryers are more expensive to run, on average, than gas ones. However, gas dryers will cost you more to buy than an electric model.

An electric clothes dryer will cost you between 30c to 40c per load. A gas dryer costs around 15c to 20c per load. Using the highest temperature will use more power than using a medium heat setting. A full load will use more power than a ¾ load. These figures are based on the US Energy Information Administration’s average cost of $0.1099 per KWH, as at January 2011.

The final option for drying clothes by machine is the combination washer/dryer, a washing machine and clothes dryer in the one machine. Many models actually use less water and energy than the equivalent stand-alone machines.

But there are other reasons why air drying is a better option. Consider the beautiful, fresh-air smell of clothes that are dried on an outside line. Sunlight removes stains and deodorizes fabrics; your clothes will last longer without the wear-and-tear of the tumble dryer.

You get some exercise by carrying the wash out to the line and stretching up to pin it to the line; great for the abs and arm muscles! One of the best bits, as far as I am concerned, is being able to be outside in the sunshine and fresh air, while still doing a necessary household chore!

Remember, there are sometimes covenants and restrictions regarding clotheslines in some residential developments. If there isn’t a clothesline in your backyard already, make sure you are allowed to have one in your neighborhood.

You can also use an airer or clothes rack, either inside or outside, to achieve the same result. The advantage here is that you can move it around to catch the sun and the breeze to help the drying process along. Use the heating in your home to also dry your clothes.

OK, I can hear some of you saying “It’s alright for folks who live in sunny climates, but what about those of us who are snowed in for weeks during winter?”

I hear what you’re saying and I accept that in some areas, or for some people, a clothes dryer is a necessity rather than an unnecessary convenience.

So, here are some tips to help you, so you too can save money by going green. Start by buying an energy efficient machine and installing it in a well-aired, warm area. Buy one with a moisture sensor (saves 15%) or a temperature sensor (saves 10%) to save on power.

Be creative when it comes to drying clothes without a dryer. Make use of your balcony, patio or a sunny window. Only use the dryer when you really have to.

Make sure you use the right settings on your dryer to limit the amount of power you use. Clean the lint filter after every load as the machine will run more efficiently when it’s not clogged. Spin the clothes as dry as possible in your washer to limit the time the drier needs to do its job.

Never over-load your dryer as the clothes will take longer to dry, using more power. Make use of the residual heat in the dryer – do a few loads one after the other; use the machine’s cool-down cycle or moisture sensor.

Depending on your current usage of the clothes dryer, you could save over $200 a year or more by using air drying for your clothes instead of always relying on the clothes dryer. As well as the cash saving to you, the planet will thank you with the saving of around 650 pounds of carbon emissions each year.

So, how do you dry your clothes and why?


(Photo credit: Rick Harpenau)

13 thoughts on “Go Green and Save Money – Line Drying vs Clothes Dryer

  1. Pingback: Go Green and Save Money – Line Drying vs Clothes Dryer … | Green Living
  2. I’m glad you gave me some tips on how to get a more efficient dryer because I am not a fan of line drying. My current dryer does have a moisture sensor and I definitely think it helps a lot! I always clean my lint filter too.

  3. When the weather is good, I prefer to hang our clothes to dry under the sun or wind. I have a good space on my backyard where I have a portable clothes line. I believe that line drying does not only save money and help save the environment, but clothes also smells better than those dried in a dryer.

  4. Currently we only hang dry our stuff and don’t even own a dryer. When the weather is nice we’ll frequently bring the items outside, otherwise, we put them in a spare laundry room that will be the future kids room. I imagine however, once we have a kid we will likely need a dryer since kids cloths get dirty… quick.

    1. I think you should still try to line dry them. They dry faster than you think.
      We dry our clothes in our laundry room on a line. It works well and is always a good option in the winter months.

  5. One of the things I was most excited about when we moved to our last apartment was the long clothes line, there’s nothing better or cheaper than freshly line-dried linens. Now in our new house, we don’t have a clothes line AND we pay our own electricity (it was bundled before). I think putting up a clothes line will be on our list of home improvements to make before the summer is over.

  6. Allergies make line-dried clothes intolerable for us, and the wrinkles mean that I have to iron all sorts of things I normally wouldn’t if I hung dry indoors. I also don’t like the stiff feeling of hung dry clothes.

    We bought a dryer with a sensor. A full but not overly full load is most efficient, on a per-item basis. I usually take the clothes out when they are about 95% dry. They don’t wrinkle drying the last little bit on the hanger.

  7. line drying takes longer and is obviously dependant on the weather, but its totally free and environmentally safe.

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