Alternatives to Your Dryer

May 20th, 2011 by Cathy Rust Leave a reply »

I’m in the middle of developing a series of posts on a step by step way to decrease your home’s electricity consumption. In order to write it I’ve used my home as a guinea pig and I’ve been discovering where we use our most electricity and when. While I haven’t figured out where it all goes, the one place I’ve targeted is our dryer. Sure it’s only four years old, but it’s on (it seems) all the time. That’s probably an exaggeration, but not much. With the number of sports our family of five plays (baseball, soccer, cycling, tennis, golf, hockey, basketball, the gym…), we go through PILES and PILES of laundry!

The dryer, in any household, is one of the biggest energy consumers. If you only use it once in awhile, then it’s not such an energy hog. In our family’s case, we use it constantly. And here’s another thing: there’s no such thing as an Energy Star Rated dryer!

What to do? To decrease the amount of drying I do there are a couple of options I can take:

1. Wash less. Sports clothes aside, my kids have a terrible habit of throwing all clothes in the laundry basket — including things that they’ve only tried on because it’s easier to throw it in a basket than fold it and put it away. While I make a habit of going through their baskets and pulling out clean clothes, sometimes, once they’re mixed in with the stinky, smelly ones, it’s too late!

2. Line dry more often. I have a drying rack already, and it gets used to capacity, but now that Toronto has done away with the “clothes line ban” — yes, you are now free to dry your clothes in public again — I can set up a clothes line for those sunny days. I have the perfect place for this unobtrusive retractable clothesline from Home Hardware. Don’t forget about coupons available for clothesline and umbrella clothes lines available through Ontario utility providers such as Toronto Hydro.

Nature's Dryer

3. Drying racks as art. I have a confession to make — I think the old-fashioned umbrella drying racks are ugly. An eye-sore. Uninspiring. Sure they’re convenient and practical and energy saving — but they’re not nice to look at. Artist, Debra Jones, created “Nature’s Dryer”, which is, on the other hand, nice to look at and blends in with the scenery when there’s no laundry on it. I contacted Debra about her dryer because I wanted to know a bit more, and here is what she wrote in response:

How long does it take to order?

Debra: [O]ur tree is available for pre-orders and it would take a minimum of a month (we need a minimum quantity of 20 to place an order and hold the price at $995.00CAD).

If it goes outside do you “plant” it? If inside, is it in a stand?

Debra: Both outdoor and indoor versions have the same base and a ‘trunk’ which is open in the centre. The outdoor tree is secured to the ground by placing the ‘trunk’ and ‘roots’ over a galvanized, stabilizing pole which has been cemented into the ground (similar to one you would install for an old umbrella style clothes dryer), then the branches and top are attached.

Nature's Dryer with Laundry

What sort of base does it have?

Debra: The difference when installing the indoor version is that the 4 large ‘roots’ have pre-drilled holes to accommodate  3”-4” screws that secure the tree onto a 2 layer wood base.

What is it made out of?

Debra:Nature’s Dryer is made of mild steel tubing (we source recycled tubing whenever possible) which is powder coated (the same finish used on bicycles and hydro boxes).

What is its drying capacity?

Debra: The outdoor version of Nature’s Dryer will accept at least a full load of laundry, for example 8-12 pair of jeans,  16-20 shirts/blouses/t-shirts (on hangers to also reduce ironing) or a full set of sheets and pillowcases. The ‘branches’ allow for the use of hangers, clothes pegs or items can be draped over or placed through the ‘tendrils’ to further maximize capacity.

4. Construct your own outdoor clothesline dryer. If you’re the handy type this is a great weekend project. A few years ago Martha Stewart Magazine had a great “weekend project” on constructing your own clothes drying structure — and what I really liked about it was that the different alternatives they presented were nice to look at. Like Debra’s “Nature’s Dryer” they were classy drying structures that looked like they belonged in the garden and also presented a secondary use of being able to dry your clothes on them. I never got around to constructing one and have since lost track of the issue it was in, but I still remember liking the models. If anybody out there knows which Martha Stewart issue this article was in, I’d really appreciate your feedback!

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