This afternoon I was sitting with my neighbor as she sorted her wash.
My neighbor is not particularly frugal but having grown up in my generally warm country, she has always hung her laundry and doesn't even own a dryer. Spoiled me, growing up in Middle Class, USA was raised in a home where a dryer was a given, even if it was not used for everything.
I asked my neighbor how much her electric bill was, sure that non-frugal woman's bill would be more than mine as I try to conserve resources, but was astonished to find that her electric bill was a fraction of what I was paying. (Between one third and one half of what I'm paying on a regular month.)
This neighbor's heat runs by gas and not electricity, she doesn't make all her food from scratch, and is away from her home most of the day. She also does fewer loads of laundry as she does not cloth diaper. Even so, I decided that my new goal is to lower my electric bill to what she is paying.
I will be chronicling on my blog what I am doing to conserve electricity. I already brought a crock pot and have put it to use a few times already in the hope of conserving electricity in my food preparation. Once it starts getting warmer, I would like to try using a solar cooker. (Right now a rain and wind powered cooker would have more use.)
I already have my heaters on a timer and even so, try not to use them. I'll try to get my husband more on board regarding abstaining from electric heaters unless absolutely necessary.
The biggest thing that is probably making my electric bill high is my use of a dryer. I was told that each load in the dryer costs 50-75 cents. It takes a spin and a half for my laundry to get dry in my dryer. At approximately 10 laundry loads a week and 15 cycles of the dryer, that's $32.50 a month with the dryer alone, assuming that it only costs 50 cents a load, or 48 dollars a month if its 75 cents a load.
Why am I paying so much money to dry my laundry if I can just line dry them?
I have a good excuse, but it's not good enough.
Its been pouring lately. Windy too. As in, almost hurricane weather here. We're flooding with water and the wind is blowing things around our muddy yard. Our yard is definitely not the place to be hanging laundry at the moment.
Before that, our rabbits and chickens escaped their home and were tracking mud and animal manure all over our yard. I definitely didn't want that on our freshly cleaned laundry.
Honestly, I could hang my laundry inside. I have a portable laundry rack. Even though I live in a pretty small, cramped apartment, I can always fit a laundry rack in one of the bedrooms and let my clothes dry there. I've been using the excuse that there isn't any room to maneuver in the room when a laundry rack is there, but I'll admit it, that is just an excuse. I really hate dealing with any aspect of laundry, hanging it especially and was looking for an excuse to do less laundry related work.
There is one (or two, maybe) problems with my line drying indoors.
I have two portable laundry racks but only have room for one in my 965 square foot home. (Ok, I probably would be able to hang another laundry rack in my living room/dining room, but its not conducive to running a playgroup from my home.)
I can fit a load and a half to two loads of wash on my drying rack. Each load takes 2 days to dry in the winter in my home as we don't have any heaters running to hasten the process. At 10 loads of laundry a week and 1.5 loads per rack, I'd have to hang wash 6 times each week to keep up with all our laundry. If laundry takes 2 days to dry, that would be 12 days to dry 7 days of laundry. Imagine getting very behind on laundry very quickly.
To top it all off, I cloth diaper. Line drying cloth diapers in my home on racks in the winter takes 2-3 days usually to dry. I have enough cloth diapers to last me 3-4 days. I do a cycle of cloth diapers whenever I have two full buckets (a whole load) and that usually is every day and a half to two days. Washing diapers every 2 days and then 2-3 days to line dry would make me run out of cloth diapers very quickly. Not to mention that they'd take up the line so I wouldn't be able to line dry anything else.
I made a resolution to only dry my cloth diapers in the dryer, and only that until it gets warm enough outside to line dry them in the wind and sun (a powerful drying combination that we usually have three quarters of the year).
I put my resolution into play already. I cleared a space in my son's room, set up the laundry rack and managed to squeeze 2 loads of wet laundry onto the rack.
Additional ways in which I have been trying to conserve energy with laundry (but haven't yet seen the monetary difference as we're in the middle of a two month billing period) is by not washing my cloth diapers on 190 degree washes. I've been washing them either on 105 degree washes or using my hot water tap (heated by gas and cheaper than my electricity heated washing machine water).
I am also thinking twice before throwing something in the wash. If I can spot clean something, I will. If it is clean and non smelly, I will put it back on the shelf for a future use. Sloppy me is also trying to (albeit unsuccessfully) be a little neater and not dirty my clothes quite so quickly.
My husband and I went over our budget today and decided that we absolutely need to cut back on something. Our two biggest expenses are rent and food. Rent we're considering cutting back on by moving to a cheaper place, and I'm already trying hard to cut back on food expenses- this blog is testimony to that. The next biggest expense after those is utilities, and electricity in particular. The utility bills are some expenses that are possible for us to reduce without too much of a change in quality of life. I am also trying to cut back on water usage and have posted a few posts on that subject and plan on posting more in that vein in the future.
Do you use a dryer or do you line dry? Why did you chose your laundry drying method? If you line dry, how much do you assume you save each month?
Have you successfully significantly cut back your utilities bills? How did you do it, and was it worth the effort?