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.

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
  • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less
Photo by Alina Grubnyak on Unsplash
Mind & Brain

Do human beings have a magnetic sense? Biologists know other animals do. They think it helps creatures including bees, turtles and birds navigate through the world.

Keep reading Show less

The culprit of increased depression among teens? Smartphones, new research suggests.

A new study, led by psychologist Jean Twenge, points to the screen as the problem.

A teenager eyes her smartphone as people enjoy a warm day on the day of silence, one day prior to the presidential elections, when candidates and political parties are not allowed to voice their political meaning on April 14, 2018 in Kotor, Montenegro. Citizens from Montenegro, the youngest NATO member, will vote for a new president on Sunday 15 2018. (Photo by Pierre Crom/Getty Images)
Surprising Science
  • In a new study, adolescents and young adults are experiencing increased rates of depression and suicide attempts.
  • The data cover the years 2005–2017, tracking perfectly with the introduction of the iPhone and widespread dissemination of smartphones.
  • Interestingly, the highest increase in depressive incidents was among individuals in the top income bracket.
Keep reading Show less

U.S. reacts to New Zealand's gun ban

On Thursday, New Zealand moved to ban an array of semi-automatic guns and firearms components following a mass shooting that killed 50 people.

(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Gun control supporters are pointing to the ban as an example of swift, decisive action that the U.S. desperately needs.
  • Others note the inherent differences between the two nations, arguing that it is a good thing that it is relatively hard to pass such legislation in such a short timeframe.
  • The ban will surely shape future conversations about gun control in the U.S.
Keep reading Show less