Thursday, July 5, 2012

Solar Clothes Dryer Controversy

What a hot, dry, breezy, day this is. While it's not a good time to do much of anything outside, it is a perfect day to use a solar clothes drier. This will save me some money because electric clothes dryers are power hogs.
A Department of Energy report estimated "electric clothes dryers accounted for about 5.8% of total electricity usage in U.S. homes -- a startling figure given that the same report said all indoor and outdoor lighting in American homes constitutes only 8.8% of electricity usage. Plus, the 5.8% attributed to dryers does not include electricity needed to power the motors of gas-heated dryers."
We don't have a really high electric bill - but it's 102f in the shade out there. Why heat the house?
Luckily, I live in a place where it isn't illegal to own/use one because it is a very handy device, quick and quiet. I can load it down with two washer loads of clothes and they dry in no time. If I'd been in a laundromat I'd have to pay a buck or more a load.
There are various configurations. Setting one up can take some time and ingenuity and quality replacement parts can be tricky to find. But the money I save justifies the initial investment. I've had to rebuild this one - and if the cords give out it's going to be a bear to replace them.
These simple devices are scorned, called ugly and unsightly, then made illegal to own or operate. Either people just don't understand this technology or they have some kind of underwear phobia. (I suspect the latter.)
It's hard to believe that this incredible invention is illegal in parts of the country. (Want to see an example? Click here.) Yep, try to use one in a sub-division and see what happens. You'll have the owners association breathing down your neck the minute you set it up. Your neighbor could call the police and have you arrested!
British film producer Steven Lake to make "Drying for Freedom," a documentary on line-drying in the U.S. because he was outraged that something so simple was outlawed in so many areas.
"The matter of wasted energy is something that draws my attention to this topic," he said. "But mostly it's the fact that in America, which to the rest of the world is considered to be the land of the free, citizens are banned from something as simple and silly as hanging out their washing."
If that sounds boring here's a quick quote: "We're including feuding neighbors in Mississippi where one man purportedly shot and killed another due to a dispute over a washing line. He didn't want to see the laundry from his window."
I guess that proves a point - doesn't it? We live in a strange society that can't tolerate something as basic as hanging some towels over the porch rail to dry? I guess if you want to live in a 'beige on beige gated community' then conformity is a much. But that's not where I live, or how I want to live.
My solar clothes dryer is old, but the Rotary configuration is compact and safer than the straight single line model. Four poles hold two dozen lines, so I've got room for queen-sized sheets and plenty of clothes. In this weather - the wind and the sun dry and disinfect my clothes in about an hour - free.
I like free.


The One and Only Doc said...

My maternal grandparents, once upon a time in suburban Chicago, had one of those. My paternal grandmother I think still has one in her yard (unless we tore it out because it was unsafe--I don't go to that side of her yard often). I can remember my great grandmother hanging stuff to dry in Schaumburg when I was young, before my grandparents moved elsewhere. It was kind of neat.

I can't quite understand why they're illegal. If they're well-maintained and used, then it shouldn't be a problem. Unless you're using it to dry unmentionables where kids can see.

K. A. Jordan said...

Thanks for the comment. It is amazing how much laundry one of those things will hold.

An entire load of wash dried in 2 hours, which is unblievablely fast, even in this heat.