Install a Solar Clothes Dryer

Solar power — By on October 8, 2009 at 7:36 am
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The original solar clothes dryer

Want to save 10% on your energy costs each month?  You don’t need to purchase solar panels or make a major investment.  In fact, you can install a solar clothes dryer in a matter of hours (if not less).  The only thing you need to do is to check to make sure that your city/town/homeowners association allows clotheslines.

I can hear you now.  Why would the original solar clothes dryer be banned?  Well, unfortunately, some people find clotheslines to be unsightly.  Apparently, these same people may find coal plants to be beautiful and are not concerned about polar bear drownings (tongue planted firmly in cheek).

But in all seriousness… the bottom line is that people are concerned about property values when they impose regulations and covenants conditions and restrictions (CCRs).  This is when you tell them that, for every $1 you save in annual electricity bills, your property value increases by $20.  In other words, by saving $1000 per year, your equity automatically goes up $20,000.

So, what is involved with a solar clothes dryer?  All you need is: (1) a couple of trees, or posts spaced about 30-40 feet apart; (2) thick, braided cord (available at your local hardware store); (3) clothespins; and (4) a nice breeze.

Oh, and I almost forgot…. about $18 total cost for the entire installation.

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Save energy (if not gain some humility) with a solar clothes dryer

Here are our step-by-step tips to help you install a solar clothes dryer this weekend!

  1. Find a place in your yard that gets lots of sun – preferably south-facing.
  2. Check to see if there are trees spaced adequately apart in said “perfect” location
  3. If not, install clothesline poles:  this involves digging two holes about 10 inches wide/12 inches deep, about 30-40 feet apart
  4. Fill each of the holes with water and dump in a bag of post hole cement in each one.  Then, carefully place a pole in each hole down into the cement.
  5. Align the two poles along a north-south axis so your laundry gets maximum sunshine.
  6. String the nylon clothesline between the two trees or posts.
  7. Remove your clothes from the washing machine, use clothespins to hang them from your solar clothes dryer, and let the power of the sun do the hard (yet free) work).

Keep the following information in mind.  Using an electric dryer will generate over 1 ton of greenhouse gases annually.  Oftentimes, the dryer is the biggest energy hog in a home, right after the refrigerator.  Over the course of 12 months, your electric dryer could cost you an extra $100 per year (more if you have a large family and/or wash clothes more frequently).

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A clothesline can help save impressive amounts off your electricity bill

No wonder our forefathers and mothers used the free power of the sun to dry washed clothing!

Even if you cannot install a solar clothes dryer outside at your home, you can still dry your laundry naturally.  Simply string nylon inside and allow your interior heating system to do double duty:  both warming the house and drying your clothes.

We’ve installed a solar clothes dryer at our home!  Yes, we have about 300 days of sunshine each year in Bend, Oregon.  But with a family of 6, our energy costs would be through the roof without this ancient technology.

It almost makes me want to wash some laundry right now!

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5 Comments

  1. Nicky says:

    Rainy days and winter make outdoor drying difficult, but we still air dry our clothes by using this type of laundry drying rack Being round it works really nice under a ceiling fan!

    One tip is to switch your laundry time to the evening then put the clothes on racks in your living space right before bed to dry 8 hours while you sleep. You’ll have dry clothes in the morning without tripping over the rack all day.

  2. Stephanie says:

    That is a super idea! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Corey says:

    A spin dryer such as at http://www.laundry-alternative.com can also help to dramatically reduce your energy usage and environmental footprint. They are about 100 times as energy efficient as conventional clothes dryers, and are also helpful for damp conditions when clothes can get smelly when line dried. They can also complement a regular dryer and clothesline.

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