Clothes Drying

While dryers may offer convenience and fluff up towels nicely, they draw power from faraway power plants burning fossil fuels (picture black smoke rising from ugly smokestacks) while the warm sun and gentle breeze await just outside your door to do the job for free.

If you must use a dryer, Energy Star certified dryers use about 20 percent less energy than conventional models by using energy saving technologies including moisture sensors that shut off the dryer when the clothes are dry.

Recommended Actions:

Embrace the sun and breeze – Line and/or rack-dry clothes as often as you can. Doing so will save you $100 or more a year. There are other benefits too: rack-drying will humidify the house in winter, you avoid the risk of dryer lint fires, your dog and kids will love having you out in the yard for a few more minutes, and you will be a role model for your children for wisely using free and clean energy from the sun. You save tons of electricity if you have been using an electric dryer. Plus, your clothes smell clean and fresh.

Actions for important alternatives to using a clothes dryer:

  1. Line or rack dry your clothes more often!
  2. Get an indoor rack dryer.
  3. In warm weather, use an outdoor clothes lines to dry (clothes will still dry in cold weather but it takes longer).

If you must use a clothes dryer:

  1. Use one that is ENERGY STAR certified. These dryers incorporate advanced moisture sensors that automatically shut off when clothes are dry.
  2. Use a low heat setting, which use less energy to dry clothes.
  3. Consider getting an ENERGY STAR certified heat pump dryer, which can use 20-60% less energy than conventional clothes dryers. Heat pump dryers recirculate air in the dryer rather than venting to the exterior of the home as a conventional dryer does. Instead, a heat pump dryer passes the humid air  through a condenser to remove the moisture. This process collects condensed water, which is then drained or emptied out of a holding tank in the dryer.

Financial Considerations:

Here is a method for calculating the cost of running dryer:

  • (Dryer runs at 5600 watts x .667 hours) / 1000 watts/kWh = 3.73 kWh (per load)
  • 3.73 kWh (energy used per load) x $.15 (price of electricity per kWh in Concord) = $.56 per load
  • $.56 per load x 24 loads a month = $13.42 per month
  • $13.42 x 12 months/year = $161 per year

These calculations do not take into account extra heating and cooling costs for your house. Remember that all indoor air vented outside by the clothes dryer has to be replaced by outdoor air and then heated (or cooled) to a comfortable temperature.

Equipment Cost

Rotary clotheslines or drying racks can be purchased for under $50.

Typical Pay-Back Periods

The payback time for a clothesline or drying rack is a few months, if regularly used.

Environmental Benefits

  • Line drying clothes does not result in any CO2 emissions.
  • If you avoid running a dryer for several loads a week, you could prevent 650 kg of CO2 emissions each year.
  •  If all clothes dryers sold in the US were ENERGY STAR certified, Americans could save more than $1.5 billion each year in utility costs and prevent greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to more than 2 million vehicles.

Other Benefits or Potential Draw-backs:

By switching to rack or line drying more often:

  • Clothes last longer because fabric doesn’t get worn down as it does in a dryer (think of all that dryer lint).
  • You may do fewer loads of laundry – since it’s time consuming, you get a better sense of when you really need to wash your clothes.
  • You may find it therapeutic to be outside hanging out your clothes
  • Clothes smell better

Benefits of switching to an energy efficient dryer:

  •     Uses less energy.


Q: Won’t my neighbors think I’m going “retro” if I hang out my laundry? A: If they are not enlightened about the many benefits of line-drying, they might. But line drying is certainly far from unusual throughout history and around the world today! The first electric clothes dryer was designed in 1938, and didn’t find wide distribution until well into the 50s. Start a green trend in your neighborhood and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine and a well-deserved break from the indoors.

Q: What if I don’t have room to line dry? A:  There are many varieties of durable indoor racks available.  You don’t need to line dry outdoors.


  1. Energy Star Info on Clothes Dryers
  2. Consumer Reports on Clothes Dryers
  3. Clothesline materials and drying racks can be found at many stores around the Berkshires.