Featured LIFE

It’s much better to dry clothes outside

It’s much better to dry clothes outside

By Suha Chari

Did you know California is a right to dry state?

Renters and condo owners cannot be prevented from drying their clothes on a line or a rack on their balconies. Homeowners can, of course, line-dry clothes in their backyards.

Why is this important? A couple of reasons:

1. On average, tumble dryers use more electricity than any other appliance in our home, except for the water heater. Yes, it uses even more than the average refrigerator.

Annual electricity use
Clothes dryer – 769 kWh
Clothes washer – 590 kWh
Dishwasher – 206 kWh
Refrigerator – 596 kWh

2. Gas dryers have an added disadvantage; though these may run cheaper, they account for more greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and, hence, are not sustainable.

This is especially important considering California’s Climate Action Plan and the State’s all out efforts to mitigate the devastating effects of climate change.

On the off chance that your apartment complex absolutely prevents you from drying your clothes outside anywhere, there are a few things you can do: First, talk to the manager. Try to convince him or her that line drying goes a long way to preventing further emissions of GHGs into the atmosphere. It is also great for the clothes, especially here in sunny San Diego, though it may not feel like it now. I find clothes are fresher when partially dried outside, and then brought in to dry completely.

If you have to use the dryer, there are ways to do it more efficiently: Generally, a low heat setting that runs for longer uses less electricity than a high heat setting for a shorter period. Using the cool down cycle setting is another way to save electricity by utilizing the warm air inside the machine. Also, always use sensor drying rather than a timed dry if it’s an option. The dryer should be full but not too full. It takes longer to dry clothes when the dryer is overloaded or the load is too small. What’s in the load can also make a difference. It’s better to dry towels and heavy clothes separately from lighter clothes because combining them will extend the drying time. 

Finally, to get exact figures for your dryer’s energy use, find step by step instructions here: majorenergy.com/how-much-electricity-does-a-dryer-use/

Being outdoors, having fresh smelling clothes and saving money while living sustainably are all great. What more can we ask for?

Event: There will be a Fixit Clinic to repair small household items, at the library on July 22, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Please register in advance.

For more info: zerowastesandiego.org/event/san-diego-fixit-clinic.

Sustainable Scripps Ranch is a standing committee of the Scripps Ranch Civic Association. To learn more about Sustainable Scripps Ranch, visit scrippsranch.org/ssr or email SustainableSR@scrippsranch.org.