12.12.2007

Quasi-Scientific Experiment 07-001: To Line Dry or Not...

Being an avid clothes dryer user, I often wondered why the heck people line dry their clothes. I’ve heard answers like “It saves money”, “your clothes don’t wear out as quickly”, “It is better for the environment”, “you can’t tell a difference in the drying”. But are these things true? I set out to find the truth.

Quasi-Scientific Experiment 07-001: To Line Dry or Not...
1. Does it save money?
2. Is it better for the Environment?
3. Can you tell a difference?

(Note: The test to see if it extends the life of your clothes would take like a gajillion years and tedious methods that bore me at the moment. My gut says it does, so let’s assume that.)

1. Cost Analysis:
Total savings to line dry = $0.51 per load

Drying cost of each load: $0.57 per load
5,500 average watts per hour a dryer uses
80 minute cycle per load
$0.07822 per KwH (current NES rates)
Fabric Softener vs. Dryer Sheets adjustment: $0.06 difference
$0.0921 Fabric Softener cost per load
$0.0337 Drying Sheets cost per load


2. Environmental Analysis:
Eric and I typically wash 4 loads of clothes per week. Yearly, that would be 1,542 KwH [kilowatt hours]…which comes out to $120 a year. This doesn’t seem like much, but when you get into other ways to save on electricity, this is pretty substantial. This is the equivalent yearly savings of switching 20 light bulbs to the compact fluorescent version (with an average use of 4.5 hours a day).

3. Drying Analysis:
Negative Drying Results: Eric’s t-shirts came out super stiff…even with fabric softener. Putting jeans on was like wearing metal pants. Towels were NOT soft and even a bit crunchy (if that makes sense). Almost everything was wrinkled.

Positive Drying Results: Eric’s mesh shorts were practically dry when they came out of the washer. I have no idea why I have been putting those in the dryer for the last 5 years of my life. My dress shirts that were nylon or spandex or wool/cashmere line dried very well. Some socks and underwear went pretty well, and line drying bras is a must (the dryer tears them up).

Observations: It didn’t take that long to hang everything up. It was roughly the same amount of time that it takes to hang up clothes after they have been in the dryer.

Overall Results:
1. Does it save money? Technically yes, but it is a lot of effort for little savings.
2. Is it better for the Environment? Since it substantially reduces electricity usage, yes.
3. Can you tell a difference? YES! In a bad way, though. Natural fibers like cotton are HORRIBLE line dryers. Synthetic materials do better line drying than traditional drying.

Ultimate Conclusion: Do not attempt to line dry any natural/cotton material. T-shirts, jeans, towels, or wrinkle-prone materials will be utter failures. Synthetic materials, socks, underwear and bras all turn out quite nicely. As far as money goes, I will have to line dry 7 loads just to cover the initial expense of purchasing fabric softener ($3.68). The better savings is avoiding the wear/tear on your clothes that the dryer creates, and the warm, fuzzy feeling you get when you think you are doing something to save the environment.

1 comment:

Kitty said...

People should read this.