Take the Uplugged: Dryer Challenge today! Challenge yourself to use your clothes dryer less; saving money and your clothes. Who can come up with the most creative way to dry their laundry? Better yet, who can go without a dryer at all for the longest period of time!?
Did you know your dryer uses the most energy out of any other appliance in your home? Dryers use 60 billion kWh of annual electricity (the same as the entire state of Massachusetts) and produce 40 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions each and every year. This amounts to a $9 billion annual energy bill! (source) As Americans, we take for granted this almost-standard convenience in our home, the majority of the world does not have dryer access whenever they want it.
We are also a lazy society. It’s not intentional but with so many tools available to us to make our lives easier, hanging up a load of laundry vs. tossing it in the dryer takes more of a conscious effort. My life is so busy as it is, where am I going to find 10 extra minutes to put up a load of laundry and then take it down later? Well, I’m sure half of you are staring at the solution right now. Phones/internet. Most of us could easily shave off a few minutes from checking facebook statuses, finding the perfect Pin, or playing a silly game. Guilty as charged.
Dryers also damage your clothes. Have you ever actually considered what dryer lint is? Its your clothes! Bits of fabric fibers break off of your clothes because of the friction produced in the dryer. Line drying clothes makes them last longer. Your dryer also sets in missed stains where as the sun is a great, natural stain remover! Plus, no one can deny, line dried clothes smell soooo good!
So what do we do? We know dryers use a ton of (a little unnecessary) energy and can shorten the life-span of our garments but we don’t think we have the time for a different option. Well, you do. Take this challenge and see how easy it is to unplug that dryer, save a little money, and get more longevity out of your clothes.
Now this challenge will look different for every person. We aren’t all the same, we don’t all have the same needs and living situations so I can’t expect everyone to do this challenge identically. The root of the challenge is the same for everyone though: Reduce the amount of dryer use in your home.
Pull the plug!
Literally! If you aren’t using it, unplug it! Even if they are not turned on, your appliances still use energy when plugged in. To do this challenge at the very minimum, just unplug your dryer when not in use. That may not be as easy as it sounds if you need to physically move your dryer to unplug it, but hey- its something. Every little bit counts!
Or go all in and unplug it for as long as you can! Challenge yourself to see how long you can go without your dryer. Once the temptation is gone, it will get easier and more “natural” to hang your laundry up to dry instead of tossing it in the dryer.
Maybe your work schedule just doesn’t allow you to hang up your clothes on days you work. What about doing a few loads during the week but committing yourself to unplugging the dryer and hanging up any loads of laundry during the weekend (or your days off)?
Hang them up!
Okay, my dryer is unplugged but my clean clothes are wet. Now what? Hang them up! There are SO many options available for an outdoor clothesline.
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- Basic clothesline. String some clothesline between two posts (or two trees, across your deck, swing set to fence- you get the idea). Easy and fairly inexpensive!
- Pulley clothesline. A basic clothesline but on a pulley system. This is great for attaching to your deck and then out to a tree or similar in your yard. You stand in one spot and as you put the laundry on, you move them out to the other end. Once they are dried, just reel them back in. No need to walk up and down the clothesline.
- Retractable clothesline. These things are pretty nifty for those who do not want a permanent clothesline or don’t want to hassle with taking it down and putting it back up. Just pull it out and over to your anchor spot and when you are done, it rolls right back up! There are options for one line or multiple lines.
- Umbrella-Style clothesline. This style clothesline folds up when not in use and actually holds quite a bit of laundry! Most of them turn so you can stay in one place while hanging up and taking down laundry. It doesn’t take up much space and there is no risk of “clotheslining” any unsuspecting (and poor of vision) people running through your yard (as rare as that actually is). haha.
Maybe you live in an apartment without a deck/balcony or having an outdoor clothesline is just not a possibility for you. There are many useful indoor clothesline options available as well! These are nice to have in any home because sometimes the weather prevents hanging clothes outside.
- Basic clothesline hung up in a basement or mud room. Use command style hooks if you can’t put a hole in the wall, find two points to anchor a line, or buy a couple Clothesline Hooks.
- Retractable indoor clothesline. These are the same as the outdoor ones, just bring it indoors! Basement/mud room/spare room/laundry room etc. Just retract it back in when not in use!
- Foldable drying rack. There are different styles of these. Ones that pull out from the wall as well as ones that free stand. They are handy because they can be set up (or pulled out) when in use and then put away when you are done drying.
- This round hanging rackcan be hung up anywhere in your home. It’s not very big so it wont hold a lot of clothes (or large items like bedding) but it would come in handy for drying undergarments, small towels, or cloth diapers.
- Portable umbrella style clothesline. Very similar to the outdoor style but set it up and take it down easily! This would be great on a balcony as well.
Still can’t convince you to hang up your clothes? Even using your dryer more efficiently will save on your energy costs:
- Clean your lint trap after every use. Any lint build up will cause your machine to use more energy. If you use fabric softener sheets, make sure to periodically wash your lint trap as well! The dryer sheets cause a build up that lessens air flow through the screen.
- Use a lower heat setting. Your clothes do not need to be dried on high heat. The delicates/permanent press setting should do just fine.
- Dry your clothes for less time. Do your clothes come out of the dryer full of static? Do you know why? Because they are getting too dry! If they regularly do, lessen your dry time or use the moisture setting, if your dryer has one.
- Use dryer balls. Adding dryer balls to your load creates more movement and helps speed up dry time.
- Dry loads all at once. As soon as one load is done, throw another in. Using the heat leftover from the last load is much more efficient than starting over again with a cold drum.
- Get an energy efficient machine! Newer machines are much more energy efficient than older ones and some are even Energy Star rated.
Let’s see who can come up with the most creative way to dry laundry. You don’t have to spend any money on it either! You can use your shower curtain rod, hang your unmentionables on the ceiling fan (this may or may not have happened in our home when our dryer was on the fritz), hang them on chairs (indoors and out), etc. What ideas can you come up with?
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