Provo/Orem Energy Source

Documenting my struggle to educate myself on energy issues and providing a resources for others trying to do the same. There is no something for nothing, in energy or anything else. If you make comments please be respectful of the opinions of others.

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Thursday, July 27, 2006

Practical Energy Conservation 1: Clotheslines

The Deseret Morning News ran a story titled Power facilities strained on Wednesday about the electric grid in Utah feeling the strains of high demand this summer. With the calls for electricity conservation I'd thought I'd offer my first tip in conservation.

A couple weeks ago I spent under $10 at Home Depot and installed about 80 feet of clothesline in my backyard, (about a 30 minute project). It takes a few minutes longer to hang the clothes out on the line, but less time to fold them afterwards. With the hot dry climate here in Provo clothes can actually dry faster out on the line, and they smell better, (if we had neighbors who smoked this would be more difficult). I enjoy my backyard more and my basement less. I also get to enjoy my neighborhood and neighbors more. The clothesline doesn't need dryer sheets to keep down the static, (more cost savings). Using the dryer heats up the house slightly and outside the house somewhat as well, a rather silly thing to do when it's 100 degrees outside and 80 degrees inside, (we have a swamp cooler not an AC unit). With all that said, we still use the dryer for our underclothes, but that takes about half an hour on low to dry.

In the next week or two, I'll measure how much electricity the dryer uses when running a full load and add that to the post with my current cost per KWhr. (The most accurate way I have available is to shut off the rest of the circuits in house and take meter readings, which I keep procrastinating.)

Aug 8, 2006 - Ran the dryer on medium heat setting for 70 minutes with a load of clothes (normal amount of time for our dryer to get the clothes completely dry). It took 4-5 kWHrs, (the most accurarate dial is for 10 kWhrs so that's as accurate as I could get). We pay $0.0698/kWhr so it cost $0.28-$0.35 to run a load. My wife assures me that we average 4 loads a week, so that amounts to $58-$73 a year saved if we stopped using the dryer. As I watched the Watt hour wheel on the meter turn I was suprised by how extreme the difference was between times when the dryer was heating and when it was only spinning.

I could have just as easily titled this post "Nearly Free Renewable Energy." I'm now drying my clothes/towels/sheets with solar power that had a $10 up front installation cost. Maintenance cost will probably amount to replacing the line every couple years and possibly taking it down during the Winter, (though I could use it year round also). Most of the world uses this renewable energy to dry their clothes. - See the following post by JD on PeakOilDebunked for more on this line of thought, RENEWABLES PROVIDE A LOT MORE THAN A "TINY" FRACTION OF PRIMARY ENERGY

We become so accustom to the way we do things in our lives that often we don't even question them. When I taught English in Russia for 4 months I lived with the grandmother of one of my students. I wash my clothes by hand and dried them on a line on the balcony even when it was below freezing. She didn't have a frig or freezer (that worked) so we made due without one. I wouldn't want to do without a wash machine or frig, but having gone without, I don't see them as necessities anymore. I see them as luxuries I'm very grateful to have.