Washing And Drying By The Numbers

Did you know that clothes dryers – generally speaking – use about nine times as much energy as do clothes washers? An energy-and-the-home graphic spread in Dwell Magazine’s July/August issue (they brought design-savvy GOOD Magazine on board to collaborate on the project) brought this helpful factoid to my attention. It’s one thing to sort of vaguely assume, as I always have, that the dryer must use more juice. It’s another thing altogether to see a washer and dryer side by side in a creative depiction of the “typical” US home, each bearing their scarlet energy letters:


Washer:  0.6% of total household energy expenditure (at 78 kW/h)

Dryer:  5.5% of total household energy expenditure (at 677 kW/h)

The typical US home, according to Dwell’s research, spends a total of $1464.26 per year on electricity. That means (if my math is correct here, which it often isn’t) that the typical US home is spending just $8.78 a year on washing, and $80.53 on drying. And that means that if the typical household switched to line-drying, it could cross that $80 right off its annual expense list, not to mention put that much electricity back into the grid.

I’ve always kept a drying rack for wools and clothes I don’t want getting beaten up or shrunken by ruthless, sock-eating drying machines. But that 5.5% really made an impression on me, and my drying rack is starting to look like a good place for everything from t-shirts to bath mats to sheets. I’m thinking that next time I open the drying machine, maybe I won’t throw in the towel.

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