Since getting solar panels on our roof two months ago, we have generated an average of 6.5 KwH a day. Our consumption from the grid has been 8 KwH a day. Therefore our total electricity consumption has been 14.5 KwH per day. Now, wait a minute, before we went solar, we were using an average of 18 KwH a day in the winter. What's the deal? Partly we can explain the reduced consumption because we've been moving into Spring --- two weeks of the two months of the calculations have been post-equinox. Another reason is the installation of this.
Yes folks, spending $13K on solar panels to help the environment is what finally prompted me to spend $40 on a couple of outdoor retractable clothelines. Let's hear it for using pure unadulterated solar energy to dry our clothes.
Up til the remodel three years ago, we didn't even own a dryer. Everything was hung on lines. About 7 years ago the outdoor clothesline was removed along with the dead trees holding it up, but we still had about a hundred linear feet of clotheline in the (mostly) unfinished basement. There is a different rhythm to life without a dryer. One simply accepted jeans would take 24 hours to dry. My little secret was that I didn't have to fold, sort and put laundry away. With so much hanging space, we just browsed the lines for something clean to wear each day. I was slightly embarrassed that we didn't do laundry the American way and stack clothing into drawers between the wearing/washing cycle. After admitting that to a friend and having her tell me I was nuts --- there's nothing wrong with my efficient system, I eased up on myself.
Then we remodeled, turning the basement into two bedrooms, bathroom, family room, darkroom/storage/furnace room, and much smaller laundry room. We became true blue middle class Americans with an electric dryer. Jeans washed and ready to wear in 2 hours. And piles of laundry to fold, sort and put away. Yup, that dryer is not a Time Saving Appliance. But it was a space saver and that was important. I just always kept it in the back of my mind that someday I would replace the outside clothesline. Paying more attention to energy use once the solar panels went up finally pushed me out of equilibrium into action.
Reality is that this is Seattle and it rains a lot. This outdoor drying system has so far accomplished about 15 to 20 percent of our laundry drying needs. Summer I expect it to fulfill 80% of our laundry needs. Although I really like sheets dried in the sun, I do prefer towels fluffy from the dryer. Plus, you know what happens to to your laundry -- especially a towel -- when you leave it unsupervised out of doors? This will hide in the folds. Constant vigilance, shaking the clothes well before bringing them inside will remove most of them, but somehow they always cling hidden to the towels. And stay there waiting for you to take a shower. And there is nothing ickier than that. Nothing.