Every few years, the Pew Research Center asks about 1,000 Americans what they think about various appliances. In 2006, 83 percent of respondents said a clothes dryer was a necessity.
Since then, something striking has happened—the people that Pew surveys have begun to think differently about energy- intensive appliances: in 2010, when the survey was re-done, only 59 percent of people found a dryer to be a necessity.
About a third of Americans have figured out that it takes a huge commitment of energy to run a dryer—all to do something that our great-grandparents knew that the air, given a little more time, could do for free. In many other countries, this wisdom is more widely shared, and drying clothes on a line or a rack is the norm. Whereas 75 percent of households in the US own a clothes dryer, for example, only about half of households in Europe own one, according to the Netherlands Statistical Office.
Why fire the dryer?
- Save energy and curb emissions
In many households, the dryer is the third-most energy-hungry appliance, after the refrigerator and washer. Air-drying your clothes can reduce the average household’s carbon footprint by a whopping 2,400 pounds a year.
- Save Money
Not many people can afford to spend any more than necessary on energy bills, and many households pay more than $100 a year on the electricity claimed by their dryer. Most households will likely have less than a year of payback time for purchases that enable air drying.
- Save time
Anyone who’s had to wait around the laundromat or delay an errand to fold clothes right when the dryer finished will appreciate the flexibility of air-drying clothes. While it may take longer for clothing to get dry, you don’t have to be present to fold them to prevent wrinkles. You can hang your laundry on the rack or line and go about your day, then come back to fold whenever you get around to it.
- Save your clothes
The lint you find in your dryer is evidence of your wardrobe literally wearing away. When you stop using your dryer, you’re conserving your favorite clothes longer and saving the cost of replacing them before their time.