How to Save on Energy Costs by Air Drying Your Laundry Outside

How to Save on Energy Costs by Air Drying Your Laundry Outside

How to Save on Energy Costs by Air Drying Your Laundry Outside

Clothes dryers can be major energy hogs. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, clothes dryers account for about 6% of a home’s total electricity usage. That adds up fast, especially if you’re drying multiple loads per week.

The good news is, there’s an easy way to drastically cut your clothes drying energy use: air drying your laundry outside. Hanging your clothes on an outdoor line to dry in the sun and breeze is an age-old practice that fell out of fashion with the rise of electric and gas dryers. But air drying makes a lot of sense if you want to save energy and money.

Here’s a comprehensive guide on how you can save on energy costs by air drying your laundry outside:

Why Air Drying Saves Energy

The main reason air drying outdoors saves so much energy is that it relies on natural sunlight and wind rather than electricity or gas to dry your clothes. Here are some key advantages of line drying:

  • No electrical consumption – Clothes dryers can use 3,000-5,000 watts of electricity when running. Skipping the dryer avoids this large draw of power.

  • No fossil fuel combustion – Gas dryers burn natural gas or propane to generate heat. Air drying has no emissions or fossil fuel use.

  • Free solar energy – The sun’s rays provide free, renewable energy to evaporate moisture from your clothes.

  • Free air circulation – Moving air speeds up drying time and replaces humid air with dry air next to your clothes.

According to California’s Clean Energy Organization, switching from an electric dryer to outdoor line drying for just 6 months can save over 700 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions.

Estimated Energy and Cost Savings

Exactly how much can you save by making the switch to outdoor clothes drying? Here are some estimates based on national average electricity rates and dryer usage:

  • Drying 2 loads per week outdoors could save 330-660 kWh per year. That’s a $40-80 per year savings.

  • Drying 4 loads per week outdoors could save 660-1,320 kWh per year. That’s an $80-160 per year savings.

  • Drying 6-8 loads per week outdoors could save 990-2,200 kWh per year. That’s a $120-260 per year savings.

Of course, your actual savings will depend on your local electricity rate, dryer wattage, and drying usage. But in most cases, several hundred kWh and $100+ savings per year are achievable.

Buying a Clothes Drying Rack

To get started with outdoor clothes drying, you’ll first need to buy a drying rack, clothesline, or laundry drying system. Here are some options to consider:

  • Umbrella clothesline – Umbrella-shaped poles with radial lines attached. Raises line high to maximize airflow.

  • Retractable clothesline – Clothesline reels in and out for easy access and storage. Can mount on a wall.

  • Freestanding drying rack – Stationary or foldable racks with mesh levels to lay clothes flat.

  • Portable drying rack – Lightweight small racks that can be used outdoors or indoors.

  • Laundry drying system – Complete setups with multiple parallel lines, poles, and accessories.

Look for clothes drying systems made of durable materials like steel, aluminum, or plastic. I recommend getting a dryer rack or laundry system with at least 20-30 feet of drying line to provide ample space for multiple loads. Expect to spend $40-100 for a quality drying system.

Choosing the Best Location Outdoors

Where you set up your clothesline or drying rack outside can significantly impact drying speed and performance. Here are factors to consider:

  • Select a sunny spot to maximize solar heat and UV to dry clothes faster.

  • Pick an area with good airflow to circulate moist air away from clothes.

  • Set it up in a hard open surface like concrete or pavers to get airflow under the clothes.

  • Make sure the area is protected from rain so clothes don’t get wet again.

  • Privacy may also be a consideration for your laundry setup area.

Ideally, a covered porch or enclosed yard is a great spot for an outdoor clothes drying setup. If you don’t have an ideal laundry drying space, you can also use portable drying racks that you take out as needed.

Protecting Clothes from Elements

When drying laundry outside, you’ll need to take a few steps to protect your clothes:

  • Take clothes in before rain storms so they don’t get soaked again. Check weather reports.

  • Use mesh laundry bags for delicates to prevent blowing away in wind.

  • Consider UV protecting clothesline covers to shield from sun damage.

  • Bring clothes in before nightfall to prevent overnight dampness or dew.

  • Use ties, clothespins, or clamps to keep clothes secure on the line.

With a good drying spot and some protective measures, your clothes will get dry outside without damage from the outdoor elements.

Maximizing Drying Speed

Here are some tips to speed up drying time when line drying clothes outdoors:

  • Shake clothes before hanging to release wrinkles – this improves airflow.

  • Hang clothes spaced apart, not clumped together. Allow air to circulate between items.

  • Hang shirts/blouses untucked and unzipped to expose more surface area.

  • Turn thicker items inside-out so the inner lining and seams dry too.

  • Leave socks/underwear slightly inside-out on the clothes pins for faster drying.

  • Check clothes every 2 hours and take down once fully dry to avoid over-drying.

With good spacing technique and periodic checking, most laundry loads will dry within 4-8 hours in sunny weather.

Enjoying the Benefits

Once you get used to air drying your laundry outside to save energy, you’ll start to really enjoy the benefits:

  • Lower electricity bills each month from avoided clothes dryer use.

  • Cleaner smelling laundry from drying in fresh outdoor air.

  • Less static cling on clothes dried without heat.

  • Reduced risk of shrinkage and heat damage to fabrics.

  • No more lint trap cleaning chores.

  • Softer fabrics from natural evaporation of moisture.

Saving energy is just one advantage of switching to outdoor clothes drying. It can also be better for your clothes, requires less maintenance, and imparts a fresh scent.

So take a step back from electric or gas dryers and enjoy big savings by harnessing natural sunlight and breeze. A world of energy and cost savings awaits through air drying outdoors!