At Home with Lisa: Dryer Balls and Drying Rack

I was looking through Avista’s Energy Guide this week and I learned that dryers use considerably more energy than washing machines.

I have a regular-sized dryer that isn’t optimized to use less energy. According to the Energy Guide, that means my dryer uses about 75 kilowatt hours a month, adding about $7.51 to my energy bill. In my old house that is hard to keep warm in the winter and cool in the summer, any chance I get to shave off my electricity usage is a win.

Since the weather’s been warm and sunny, I thought I’d try drying my laundry the old-fashioned way. I got a drying rack. Prices for these start around $20.

In the last couple of years, I’ve also seen dryer balls advertised online. These can be made of wool or plastic or other materials.

I looked them up: they work by bouncing around in your dryer to break up large clumps of wet clothes or towels. This puts air between the garments resulting in a quicker drying time.

The added benefit of dryer balls is they soften fabrics as they rub against them, meaning no need for dryer sheets. Best of all, they can last for about 1,000 trips through the dryer.

There are some very cute dryer balls online, in the shape of little hedgehogs or penguins, but I chose some plain wool balls. Prices seem to range from $6 and up.

I tested out both of these methods recently. I threw a large load of towels into the wash. When they were done, I took most of them and put them in the dryer with the woolen balls. Two of them I hung on my new dryer rack outside.

The balls worked as advertised. My towels were perfectly dry and soft about 30 minutes later, much sooner than they would have been without the balls.

The rack worked great, too. Yes, it took longer than the dryer to get my towels dry and they weren’t as soft as the ones in the dryer, but how much energy did I use getting them dry? Not even a smidge, just as the Energy Guide said, “sunshine is free.”

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