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Using Fresh Air and Sunshine Instead of a Clothes Dryer

written by: W. A. Swan•edited by: Jean Scheid•updated: 6/14/2011

Ever wonder how to save money on basic daily needs without serious compromise? One method is to dry laundry outside. The question is, how much money can you save by drying your laundry outside?

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    There is a renewed interest in sustainable living. One effect of this movement is how people are beginning to review their daily or weekly habits in life. A common question environmental advocates ask is why more people are not drying clothes outside instead of using dryers. While not just a fad any longer, drying clothes outside does more than save the environment - it also saves lots of money. So, just how much money can you save by drying your laundry outside?

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    The Cost of Using a Dryer

    According to the California Energy Commission an average clothes dryer will cost in the range of $1,500 to operate over an 18 year lifespan. Regardless of the type of dryer, or the method of power (gas or electric), a dryer will operate the same - using artificially forced hot air to dry clothes. According to the U.S. Department of Energy a clothes dryer uses 6 percent of household electricity per month; Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division translates this into $7 per month using one load per day. If you think using the laundromat dryers are cheaper, think again. Even if you only do three loads per weekly trip you spend $3.75 per week ($15 per month).

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    Add the Extras

    Extras? Don't forget the dryer sheets, the baskets or bags, and the gas for the trip to and from the laundromat. That all adds to the cost of using the clothes dryer. So, let's add another $4 for dryer sheets (using 2010 prices) per month, $5 for the laundry basket or bags and another $3 per gallon gas each way or $6 for gas round-trip. Now, since we do laundry weekly at the laundromat, the gas is at $24 per month; add the dryer sheets and bags to haul laundry ($9) and you have $33 added to the $15 from the total above. So doing laundry at home is actually cheaper. But there is another way to do laundry at home which is even cheaper still.

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    Cost Savings: Dryer vs. Airdry

    How much money can you save by drying your laundry outside? Doing laundry outside on the line saves lots of cost when drying clothes. No dryer sheets needed; the laundry air dries on the line with the breeze which acts as a natural fabric softener. No artificial forced air since wind is powered without gas or electricity; so there is no cost for turning on the dryer. One basket can be used to haul loads outside each time; so there goes the cost of bags. And unless you drive around to the back of the house, there is no cost of gas or wear and tear on the car.

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    Unseen Savings

    The first savings in this category is the longevity of the clothes. Clothes dried in a dryer cause lint; lint is fabric ripped from clothes and gathered up by the dryer in the lint trap. This is because dryers cause fabric to be pounded, piled, pulled, and twisted for long periods of time; this action shortens the life of the clothing. How much money can you save by drying your laundry outside? Add to the above numbers the cost of replacing clothes more often than if the clothes were gently dried outside on a line or rack.

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    • Dollar Stretcher -
    • Solar-Dryer -,+environment
    • California Energy Commission -
    • CSG Network: Electricity Calculators -
    • Michael Bluejay: Cost Calculator -