Monday, November 2, 2009

Life Unelectrified

Out to dry: a clothesline in Burano, Italy.

"If 95 percent of Italians, some of earth's most fashion-conscious inhabitants, don't own a dryer, then why are Americans so adamant about tumble drying their clothes?" This was the question posed by Chelsea Hodge in a New York Times piece, "Rethinking Laundry in the 21st Century." Compare that to the approximate 80% of U.S. households that owns a dryer.

Alexander Lee, creator and executive director of Project Laundry List, has some thoughts:

Drying For Freedom Trailer

Much like the major agri-giants sold Americans on cheap food with little thought of the costs to our health and environment, the idea of a dependency on so many electrical appliances didn't factor in the consequences on these same elements.

"The tumble dryer is the second largest energy-consuming appliance and the leading cause of house fires among appliances. There is no such sense as an Energy Star dryer; these machines are inherently inefficient, using natural gas or electricity to heat air," Lee asserts in the New York Times.

I've hung dry my clothes on a drying rack and hangers in my apartment, and have abandoned the dryer for good for my towels and sheets, drying them in the same fashion. A side benefit: every load I don't dry saves $1.50.

Alexander Lee says his group is fighting the idea that clotheslines are ugly. Nothing ugly about this picture.

"It's much uglier to look out the window and see rising sea levels," he remarks.

More ways to live un-electrically? Beware of "energy vampires," devices that use electricity even when turned off and can account for up to 20 percent of your electric bill, according to the Sierra Club. Americans waste $10 billion annually on vampire energy, and if we didn't waste this energy, 30 coal-fired power plants could be shuttered.

One huge energy waster: your home-entertainment system. But what about your DVR, you ask?

He recommends a Bits power strip. I don't have a DVR, so I just have a regular power strip for my cable and tv, and one for my computer and speakers that I shut down when I leave for the day and overnight.

Lamps excluded, I reduce my energy consumption by unplugging anything not in use: my alarm clock, toaster, coffee maker and microwave. Who wants to pay more to their electric company?

Learn more about vampire energy.

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