Aug 05 2010

How much would you have to save to line-dry your clothes?


Ever since we moved to this apartment last summer, our electric bill has been much higher than at our old place. At the old apartment, we were on the third floor and had lots of sunshine. We also had no washer/dryer, so we were paying $1.25 per machine to do laundry. We stretched out our laundry-doing as much as we could and hung clothes to dry whenever it was reasonable (and sometimes when it wasn’t, but when I was out of quarters!).

In this terrace-level (ok, so halfway in the ground) apartment, we have minimal daylight. It’s sort of like a cave. We have a lamp on most of the time. The living room used to have CFL bulbs, but I switched them to the bright “daylight” bulbs to help with my sanity.

Our washing machine is a high-efficiency front-loader and I like to think it helps keep costs down, but I’m not sure. Our dryer seems pretty old and I don’t know how efficient it actually is.

I looked at my electric bill to determine the kwh rate, and it looks to be around 12 cents. Using this calculator, it appears that it costs roughly $0.50 per load to dry.

In the fall, our kwh rate will go to a discounted rate (I’m not exactly sure what it will be) because we are all-electric. So at that time, it will also cost less to run the dryer.

For one load, $0.50 doesn’t sound like much but when I think about how many loads I put through the machine in a week I can see how it would add up. It’s usually 8-12 loads per week, depending on what needs washed (and including diapers).

That’s $4-6 per week to use the dryer, or $208-$312 per year at the full rate.

I think that’s enough money that it would be reasonable to start line-drying some of our clothes once again. I have two free-standing drying racks that I can set up in my apartment. No outside locations are suitable for me.

I don’t like the crunchy feel that you can sometimes get when line-drying clothes, so I could put things in the dryer for just a few minutes to take much of the dampness off, and then hang them from there.

Further, I usually add the “extra spin” to my washing machine cycle to hopefully spin out as much moisture as I can.

I hope we can start to enjoy a lower electric bill because really, there are better things we can do with our money.

How much would you have to save to line-dry a load of clothes? Is the inconvenience of it worth it to you?

Posted under Uncategorized | 18 Comments »

18 Responses to “How much would you have to save to line-dry your clothes?”

  1. We don’t really have dryers here so we air dry by necessity. At first it was really annoying, but I’ve gotten used to it by now. I guess it makes me feel better (a little) that it’s reducing my carbon footprint… though if a dryer were available, I’d most likely utilize it!

    I agree with the dislike of the crunchy feel. Sometimes I iron. Other times I just wear them and it kind of comes out. Hanging things up on hanger to dry rather on the rack seems to help with that a bit, though jeans are the worst.

  2. I line-dry a good bit of my clothing just to avoid shrinking and wear from the dryer (heat dried clothing wears out and fades a lot faster, I’ve found). But we still dry most of our laundry in the dryer.

    Because I don’t have a suitable place to hang them outside, I usually hang my line dry clothes on the shower curtain bar in the bathroom and turn on the fan to keep air moving. It seems to help them dry faster.

  3. We hang dry all of our clothing, but use the dryer for towels, bedding, cloth napkins, socks and undies.

    To combat that crisp-feeling in the clothes, we put them in the dryer for 10-15 minutes before we hang dry them. Luckily we have a full basement with plenty of room to hang dry all of our clothes… makes it much easier and more reasonable.

    We hang dry in order to live more eco-friendly, to save money and to reduce shrinkage.

  4. We line dry ALL our clothes. I love it. Always have and always will. Our house was not built for a dryer, so we have to, but you get used to it. :) Thanks,

  5. Since I actually like to line dry clothes; I would still do it even if it didn’t save us a penny. But the electric savings is a nice bonus.

  6. I live in an apartment as well, and recently got my own washer and dryer. What I do for drying the clothes is I take all the bigger items out and lay them out to dry. Then I just use the dryer for small things like socks, underwear, rags, etc. It doesn’t take nearly as much time to dry just a small load of these, and it isn’t very much work just to lay the larger items out to dry.

    I don’t have racks, but I do have a couple of pieces of bedframe in my hallway that I use, and also the backs of my kitchen chairs.

    I also the throw the crunchy feeling clothes (usually just jeans and towels) into the dryer for a few minutes after they are dry.

  7. During the summer months, I try to line-dry laundry outdoors. If the weather is awful I will use the dryer. In the winter I use a couple standing racks in the basement (where the laundry area is). This doesn’t always work, and I get complaints about ‘crunchy’ jeans and towels – but the smell of fresh, line-dried sheets makes up for it!

  8. I’d think of a way to do less loads of laundry a week. I can’t imagine my family of four ever producing enough laundry to require 8-12 loads per week and am having a hard time imagining why you would need to do that many. I do four or five loads a week. Even when my children were in cloth diapers, I still didn’t reach that high. I had enough diapers to only wash twice a week.

    I do hang dry a large portion of our laundry to avoid shrinkage and wear and tear on them. I have racks in my basement with no lighting most of the time. They never take more than a day or so to dry.

  9. I love hanging all our laundry out to dry (except the unmentionables!) when the weather permits. It’s a great excuse to get me and the kiddos some vitamin D almost everyday. Last winter I started hanging almost everything inside as well.

    In addition to saving energy costs, line-drying also saves by reducing wear and tear on your laundry, especially things with elastic such as gym shorts, socks, underwear, and fitted sheets. You’ll also extend the life of your dryer, saving in the household appliance repair/replace portion of your budget. You won’t need fabric softener sheets, so that another $5 savings every few months. I find many casual clothes such as t-shirts and slacks come off the line semi-ironed, so I save time and energy costs by not ironing clothes (or, more realisticly, the embarrassment of going out in horribly wrinkled clothes, because I just wouldn’t take the time to iron them these days!)

  10. Tina — we’ve got about 3 loads that are diapers, plus 1 load of my son’s clothes, 2 loads of “colors, 2 loads of “whites”, a load of bath towels, bedsheets need 2 loads for all of them. Most of my clothes have some sort of food or dirt on them by the end of the day. I think it comes with having a toddler! So I can’t really rewear them. I don’t want to go longer with towels and sheets.

    I do want to wash diapers 3x week because the urine can start to break down elastic in the diapers if they sit around too long, plus the smell is grosser.

  11. I hang everything to dry – outdoors in good weather, indoors in bad weather. Once everything is completely dry, I run stuff through the “air fluff” cycle in the dryer – no heat – for five minutes. That gets all the lint, wrinkles and stiffness out just fine, and costs much less than using a cycle that includes heat.

  12. If you’re concerned about your electricity bill, why use the extra electricity for an extra spin cycle? I line dry or air dry most of my clothes, and the only items that get “crunchy” are heavy towels. Even without direct sunlight or heat, it doesn’t take that much longer for things to dry (maybe a little extra time for heavy sweaters or towels).

  13. The “extra spin” isn’t a full cycle, it’s just one additional minute. I think the electricity for that would be less than from the dryer.

  14. Kacie: yes, it isn’t that long and it is less than a dryer cycle. If you’re looking at reducing your electricity bill from a financial standpoint, it’s not that much of a change. If you’re doing this to make an impact environmentally, it adds up over time (like leaving unused appliances plugged in). Either way, there’s really no good reason for an extra spin cycle — especially if you have a high efficiency machine. I air dry 90% of my clothing, and even during winter, they dry within a day (including sweaters).

  15. For the last year we lived at our old house, we never used the dryer, and I hung all our clothes and diapers on drying racks. So when we moved to our new house, where I was able to have an outdoor clothesline, I opted to not have a dryer at all. We’ve been here more than a year now, and I don’t miss the dryer at all. I had never done the math to see how much it’s saving us in electricity to line dry everything, but I love knowing that we’re saving some resources every time I hang up a load of clothes to dry. I probably wash five to seven loads a week – that adds up over time. I can’t imagine ever going back to using a dryer.

  16. We have moisture issues in our apartment — poor ventilation. So some things do take awhile to air-dry :(

  17. I hang dry everything. I no longer own a dryer. One of the things that I think a lot of people don’t realize it actually takes no more of your time to air dry on a clothes line or clothes drying rack than it does to machine dry. Since most of the time we forget the clothes in the dryer until they are all wrinkly and have to turn it on again and add a wet wash cloth to get those wrinkles out or we simple pull the wadded mess out into a basket that then becomes a wrinkled or never put away. When removing clothes from a line or basket it is VERY easy to simply fold the clothes. If you have multiple baskets also separate them as you remove them and it is simple to get them put away.

  18. I always line dry my clothes, but to make them soft and wrinkle-free, I put my clothes in the dryer for 10 to 15 minutes, then immediately hang them up to dry the rest of the way. I don’t do this with underwear, just with clothing. I may or may not put my towels in the dryer, depending on the weather. Towels are softer if you put them in the dryer for 10 minutes but if it is hot outside, I don’t want to use the extra electricity for anything. However, in the winter, I may dry towels and clothes in the dryer for the regular amount of time to suppliment the central heat. Summertime? Well, for the past several days, it’s been over 100 degrees outside — why manufacture hot air in the clothesdryer when Mother Nature supplies it for free?

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Hey! I'm Kacie, wife and mother of 3. I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

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