HG: SustainAbility Column September 06, 2008

Cutting down dryer time saves energy

Julie Hinkson remembers when she was hanging out laundry after moving to Glade Park and a neighbor assumed her dryer wasn’t hooked up yet.

She explained to the neighbor, “I choose to do this.”

Julie, recently named executive director of United Way of Mesa County, learned about hanging out laundry from her mother in the 1950s and has been doing it all her life.

Although Julie realizes drying clothes outside saves a lot of energy, that is only part of the reason she made this choice.

With the clothesline erected a distance from the house, Julie feels like she is in her “own little world” when she hangs out her laundry every Saturday morning. “It’s a special state of mind.”

“It’s better than meditation because there is movement involved,” Julie said. Without spending a penny for the gym, you can lift heavy baskets, stretch and bend.

There is a definite art to hanging clothes on a line, and Julie is particular about the composition of her laundry array. She hangs the whites separately from the darks and makes the final product pleasing to the eye.

Her mom taught her the right way to hang sheets is to drape them over the line and adjust the corners until they are perfectly aligned. “Sheets against a blue sky just look beautiful,” Julie explained

Laundry that is line dried also smells great, and you can minimize ironing if clothes are hung up right after the washer is done.

Clothes last longer when they are air-dried, and the sun acts as a natural bleach and disinfectant.

Julie hangs out all of the laundry including cloth napkins.

The Hinkson family practices all sorts of sustainable activities, including having two drains for the washer so gray water can flow into the garden during the growing season.

The clothes dryer is second only to the refrigerator as an energy consumer in your household. An electric clothes dryer can gobble as much as 10 percent of the energy in your home. A gas dryer is more efficient, but it still uses a lot of power. You will save money by hanging laundry out to dry.

According to Julie, all you need to get started hanging out your laundry is a clothesline and clothespins. She prefers the wooden clothespins and buys a fresh set each spring.

Julie does own an electric dryer and uses it during the coldest parts of the winter.

“It’s just too hard to fold frozen jeans,” she said.


Adele Israel is a Grand Junction writer who has been involved in sustainability efforts for some 20 years. Have a question or column idea for Adele? E-mail her at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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