Okay, electric dryers are the second biggest energy hog in the typical house. We have a gas dryer, which is much better. But natural gas is a limited resource so what do we do if we want to forego the clothes dryer? (Did a little research on natural gas reserves. Minnesota doesn’t have any, North Dakota seems to be our closest supply, and most natural gas is found in, you guessed it, the Middle East. I don’t have anything against the Middle East but if it’s not in our backyard I don’t want to see us get in a war over it.)
Here in Minnesota we can dry out clothes outdoors on most days in the spring, summer and fall. We bought this type of outdoor clothesline last year from the Real Goods catalog. I liked it because I can take it down and put it away in the winter, and I can choose where to put it in my yard.Because drying clothes in direct sunlight can fade colors, I put this clothes line under a tree in the side yard. Plenty of breeze, no rays. I can get two loads of laundry on it.
But what do we do with wet laundry in the frigid cold of a Minnesota winter when it’s approaching 0 degrees fahrenheit?
We have a couple of laundry hanging options set up in our basement:
- A hanging area in the laundry room with a pipe hanging from the bottom of a floor joist (like this but homemade from PVC pipe).
- A hanging area in my sewing room, right under a ceiling hot air vent
- A multi-level drying rack for things that need to lay flat (Lehman’s catalog and Real Goods both have some great laundry options)
A home energy auditor, upon seeing the clothes hanging in my sewing room, told me not to do that because it would promote mold in the carpeting. I’ve been doing this for a couple of years and have not seen any negative effects. The clothes aren’t wet when they come out of the washer – they are only damp. And in the winter, when the air is so intensely dry indoors, any moisture I can add to the air seems like a good idea. But I could be wrong – if you know more about this, drop me a line.
I looked around online to see if anyone was talking about mold from indoor drying but didn’t find anything. Except, I came across this product – a heated air drying station. Supposed to use much less energy than a typical clothes dryer. I don’t know if it’s sold in the U.S. but it sure looks interesting.
So, down to the practical aspects of drying indoors: currently there are only three people living in my house but we used to be a family of 7. In order to dry that much clothing, we would have needed to do one person’s laundry each night of the week in order to prevent the house from being taken over by drying laundry. That seems doable.
For us, solving the indoor drying issue may be as simple as looking at the laundry room with fresh eyes using the space better. Since I have a greater passion for home brewing than laundry, “my” end of the laundry room is pretty neatly arranged. The business end is a bit of a jumble of tools, furnace filters, mops, boxes, etc. that make it hard – and generally unpleasant – for Leslie to reach the drying area. I’ll post some before and after pics this week.