Apr 23, 2011

Washing machines and dryers

Once upon a time there were no washing machines so washing clothes by hand is what people did and since it’s a huge pain in the ass, getting paid by someone else to do their laundry by hand was a job you could have.
Handwashing jobs are still common here in rural South Africa. Being that unemployment is often 50-90% in villages, it makes a lot of sense. Personally, I do it myself because I'm cheap, though I get an offer from an old lady about once a week to do my washing. I've gotten fairly used to it, but Yglesias is right, it's a huge pain in the ass. Going back to the old washing machine is one thing I'm really looking forward to back home.

However, I don't think I'll ever use a clothes dryer again. (Maybe that's too strong; using them to fluff pillows and so forth is pretty convenient. In any case, that's why God made laundromats.) Hanging my clothes up outside is easy, convenient, and saves a lot of time. At my site, I hang them in the direct sun, but given how UV has eaten my clothes, at home I'd build a shelter out of some black ground cloth or something to improve their lifespan. When I was in New York, I hardly ever used a dryer; an indoor clothes rack seemed to work just fine even in winter (though sometimes it would take a day or two).

What's more, looking at this chart, at an average power of 5000 watts, a clothes dryer is about the most energy-intensive appliance you can buy (outside of a hot tub). Scrapping the dryer saves money, energy, and the environment! I look forward to the day when our wise and forward-thinking Congress implements a massive carbon tax, making these sorts of choices a lot more beneficial for the average family.

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