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The Broken Dryer Experiment

“Hey y’all, the dryer is broken.”

The text from my housemate’s daughter came over the airwaves to the “Party of Five” conversation.

Well crap!

  1. I had already repaired the dryer once.
  2. I had just come off a month with extra expenses, and didn’t want to spend the money to repair or replace a dryer.
  3. I’m questioning what items in my life are wants vs. needs.

“Should we repair it or get a new one?” Beth, the other adult housemate asked.

“How about neither? Why do we even need a dryer?” I submitted.

A look of “You’ve got to be kidding me” landed squarely on on her face.

I continued, “People lived without dryers for thousands of years! Besides, your clothes will dry anyway without paying for electricity!” 

I appealed to her new extra-frugal nature. “Think of the money we’ll save on our electric bill! And we’ll be saving the earth because we won’t be contributing to the manufacture of goods!”

A few eye rolls and “I don’t want laundry hanging all over the house” statements later, I won the right to try living without a dryer for a while.

It’s been over 2 months now. Here’s how it’s gone:

First of all, I expected the 3 kids in the house to complain. I haven’t heard a word! I guess they’re used to my “extreme” experiments. Plus, they’re all about saving the earth too.

Since I rarely have to do laundry, Beth’s oldest daughter, Breck, blazed the trail. She laid some of her freshly washed clothing on the patio furniture in the morning. By afternoon, it was dry. The rest was draped over the stair rail in the hallway. My eyes grew big as I remembered Beth’s “I don’t want laundry hanging all over the house” directive.

*Lightbulb!* I remembered I had an IKEA clothes drying rack in my closet. I dug it out and put it on the patio for use. After a week or so, it became apparent that the patio furniture and the drying rack didn’t quite match the capacity of the kids’ ginormous loads.

“We should hang a clothesline on the patio,” offered Matti.

Beth closed her eyes and shook her head.

Two weeks later, I said, “We really should hang a clothesline on the patio. Besides giving us more space for laundry, it will optimize air flow, and help things dry faster.” 

Before Beth could object, I had found a ball of thick nylon twine (where did this even come from?) and figured out a way to hang it that would allow us to  easily take it down when we needed to look like normal people.

Beth even found some old fashioned clothespins at Big Lots.

Sunshine on my panties makes me happy

The experience:

I savor the process of hanging my damp laundry in the gentle breeze on our townhome patio. 

A wave of childhood nostalgia sweeps over me as I feel the wood of the clothespins in my hand. 

I like the practice of it. I like the slowness of it.

Natural. Evaporation from the breeze. Warmth from the sunlight.

The satisfaction of having dry clothes at the end of the day without using electricity outweighs my “need” to have dry clothes in 45 minutes.

The results from Southern California Edison:

 Average Daily UsageTotal Usage
July 201820.12 kWh644.00 kWh
July 201918.71 kWh599.00 kWh
45 kWh less!
August 201817.93 kWh520.00 kWh
August 201915.72 kWh456.00 kWh
70 kWh less!

Because of a huge rate increase, the dollar amount of our bill didn’t go down dramatically. In fact, it was a few dollars higher in July 2019 than July 2018. However, we used 45 kWh less in July 2019 compared to 2018, and 70 kWh less in August 2019 than 2018. 

That’s over 6 days worth of electricity that we saved in 2 months!

Can I live without a dryer?

The day I started writing this article, my daughter Skylar asked when we were getting a dryer. 

Throughout the entire 2 months, Beth reminded me that winter was coming. We would lose the light on our patio due to the shifting sun, and the weather would be wetter and cooler.

I grudgingly Googled repair services. Most of them had a $65 diagnostic fee. As I read reviews of repairpersons charging $100 for a $5 part, I had a bright idea: Craigslist!

$45 later, we had a “new” dryer in the garage.

I still haven’t used it. I’m determined to not use it unless absolutely necessary.

 

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