Airing it for all to see (not a reference to my junk)

I believe that I’m about to cut my electric bill by a quarter.

What? No no no. Not a commemorative state quarter. I mean 25 percent. One fourth. A factor of point two five. Or, at least twenty five American dollars.

Some recent gallivanting on the internets led me to this great website, and some very useful tips on how to save electricity. Not surprisingly, the largest single consuming appliance in the house is the clothes dryer. Who knew that something that provides so much warm and dry and fluffy would also be raping me in my wallet? After some quick (time consuming) and unobtrusive (I made my family sit in the silent dark for an hour) measurements and calculations I figured out exactly how little lube was involved in the aforementioned violation.

This family of four generates a good 7-8 loads of laundry a week. I have no idea how that even happens. It’s like the kids are just taking half of their clean laundry at putting it back in the dirty clothes hamper so they don’t have to fold and put it away. Hold on a holy second… they may actually be doing that! Now I’m gonna have to install cameras. Which reminds me of another almost completely unrelated story. Back in college at Hofstra University, I worked for the Facilities Department. Every afternoon myself and a crew of 3 other guys would report for work and be handed a list of 10 or so items of furniture that needed to be taken out of storage and delivered to various dorm rooms across campus. This list was taken from the master list that was compiled from the furniture request forms taped to the doors of all the RA’s in all the dorms. The thing was… the master list wasn’t very long. If we delivered all ten pieces of furniture everyday, we’d be out of work before the end of the semester. To quote from Blazing Saddles, we had to protect our phony baloney jobs. So we enacted some job security measures. Everyday after leaving the office we’d cross the first 5 items off the list. We’d deliver the final 5 items in record time and spend the rest of our shift playing pool at the Rec Center. Then we’d turn in the entire list as completed at the end of the day. The moral of this story is that we never got caught and cheating your employer doesn’t make you any better at pool.

Where was I? Right. At 93 cents per load to dry all our laundry, I could be shelling out between $26 and $30 a month just for the convenience of dumping dry laundry on the couch sixty minutes after it comes out of the washer. It’s just gonna sit there unfolded for a week, so what’s the big rush?

Since this discovery I have re-erected our inherited clothes line (it came with the house) to reap the benefits of the free 5-10 MPH winds out of the west, and the sun. It’s been two weeks now since I started letting time, solar radiation and geographic temperature and pressure variations do to my laundry in an afternoon what the dryer used to do in an hour. Frankly, I’m just a little bit addicted. I look for excuses to do laundry just so I can hang it out to dry. I’ll hang out a full load at 10PM if it’s windy. Who am I kidding, it doesn’t even have to be windy. To me, this is contest to see how much money I can save, and I’m gonna win.

Then my wife points me to this article. In it, the author weighs the pros and cons of drying his laundry on a clothesline, but despite the obvious financial and green benefits, he decides not to. Why? Because “clotheslines are one of those items that are often associated with poverty and the appearance of such items gives an impression of poverty in our neighborhood.” You should read the whole article.

The prospect that I could have a neighbor who would dare to insinuate that my clothesline was dragging down their property value just… just… gets my goat. It just walks right into my yard, picks up my goat and says “I’m gonna take this”. There is SO much wrong with this perceived outdoor clothes drying stigma that I cold rail against it all night long (just like Lionel Richie). You want to point at something that’s gonna drag down your property value? How about instead of the guy who’s saving a buck by drying his clothes outdoors you look instead at the guy who you know is living a year beyond his means, because when he defaults on his mortgage and the bank repossesses his house, you’d better bet that’s gonna bring your property value down. Or are we so blinded by consumerism that we honestly believe any attempt to hold onto hard earned cash (instead of pissing it away) is an act of blasphemy? Are you fucking kidding me? (My favorite saying at the moment, by the way.) I don’t hang my laundry out to dry because I can’t afford to use my dryer, I do it because I choose to afford something else.

The consummate jackasss in me knows how he would respond to a neighborhood attempt to end the use of my clothesline. He would first obtain a derelict vehicle and place it on blocks in the front yard. To the roof of that he would bolt a used upright cast iron bathtub, cover the inside with tiny pieces of blue glass and mount the gaudiest Virgin Mary you’ve ever been scared to dream about inside it. He would place dozens of plywood figures around it, painted to look like fat little ladies bending over so you can see their bloomers. He would cover the entire thing in Christmas lights that would stay on all year round, and flash in time to songs by ABBA. Then he would weld the umbrella clothesline to the top of it all. After that, he would only ever hang his underwear on it, skid marks out, and would blow an air raid siren whenever he hung them up or took them down. Oh, and if he saw his neighbors while doing this, he’d totally flip them the bird.

I’m saving that jackass for a day that I really need him. For now, I have a far more reasonable solution. Buy me out. That’s right. This is America after all: everything is for sale and you don’t get anything for nothing. If you want to “guarantee” your property value, then you can pay me to dry my laundry in my clothes dryer. I stand to save as much as $30 by drying my clothes outside, so we can start there. Assuming 10 minutes to put up and take down each load of laundry I figure that I’m investing roughly 5 hours a month to save that $30. At my going rate, that’s $75 of my time you can buy as well. So lets say that for $100 a month (cash), I’d be absolutely ecstatic to refrain from using my clothesline.

What do you mean you can’t afford that? You’re not… impoverished… are you? Yeah, we need to talk. You might be dragging down my property value.

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3 responses to “Airing it for all to see (not a reference to my junk)

  1. speaking of energy savings this is what keeps my mind going all night long

    http://www.evconvert.com/

    I wish Shaun had given me the heads-up before he got rid of his Saturn. It would’ve been perfect.

  2. It just astounds me that using the clothes drier is ‘normal’ in North America. Here in Australia pretty much everyone has and uses a clothes line of some description. Even when we lived in a flat in inner-Sydney we used a clothes-horse on the balcony. We bought a drier when we had babies, because getting fitted cloth nappies dry in a Canberra winter could take days, but we only used it when we were running out of dry nappies.

    I sometimes use it if we have days of rain and the kids need uniforms etc, but mostly we hang washing on the Hills Hoist outside in the sun or on a clothes-horse over a ducted heating vent inside if it’s raining or too cold. It wouldn’t even occur to me to use the drier for every load of washing!

    Good on you for switching – apart from the $ saving & environmental factor, sun-dried washing smells wonderful!

  3. Clothes lines are the norm here in my little corner of Nova Scotia. We took ours down when we were doing some major outside reno’s (re: replacing nearly half of the foundation…that was fun) and now I’d dearly love to have it back up. Actually, on CBC radio, on one of the national morning shows, they did a whole week long ‘thing’ about clotheslines and their resurgence. Some neighbourhoods actually have restrictions about putting up a clothes line in your back yard, which is ridiculous. Anyhow, out here I’m a bit of a black sheep with my dryer, which is good. And besides…all that colour outside is quite pretty.

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