Radical clothes drying

An  excerpt from:

LOW-­TECH LIVING AS A ‘DEMAND-­SIDE’ RESPONSE TO CLIMATE CHANGE AND PEAK OIL.  SIMPLICITY IS THE ULTIMATE SOPHISTICATION

Samuel Alexander and Paul Yacoumis

Simplicity Institute Report 15d, 2015

3.4 Drying clothes

The conventional way to dry clothes is to use an electric clothes dryer, which is very energy-­intensive. A low-­tech alternative is to use a simple washing line to dry clothes outside.

According to Sustainability Victoria, the average dryer use by Victorian households is 78 cycles per year, or 1.5 cycles per week.17 Taking a mid-­‐range approach to their energy data, we calculate an average per-­‐cycle energy consumption of 4.6 kWh, and an annual energy consumption of 359 kWh, which represents our reference scenario.

Three alternative scenarios are described as follows:

  • Moderate: Reducing electric drying to the four coldest and wettest months of the year, and using a clothesline otherwise.
  • Strong: Running the dryer for only five cycles per year (say, on the wettest and coldest days), and using a clothesline otherwise.
  • Radical: Using a clothesline only throughout the year (some days may necessitate indoor clothes drying racks).The results are summarised in the following table:

    Table 4: Potential energy savings from low-­tech clothes drying practices

Annual water saving (L)

Annual water saving (%)

Annual energy saving (kWh)

Annual energy saving (%)

Moderate

4320

50%

270

50%

Strong

7200

83%

450

83%

Radical

8640

100%

528

98%

Annual energy saving (kWh)

Annual energy saving (%)

Moderate

239.2

67%

Strong

335.8

94%

Radical

358.8

100%

The decision to dry clothes by clothesline rather than electric dryer can save a significant amount of energy, up to 100% if adopted as a complete replacement. From experience we know this can be achieved without hardship in Melbourne. At most it requires some planning in winter to ensure that washing is done on sunny days.