We Just Haven’t Needed It Yet

This is a guest post by Dave, who is also looking to retire no later than 45, but unlike Tim has no kids and doesn’t want any.  Dave is from Ontario and is working towards his CGA certification.

Both my own and my wife’s family really don’t know how we’re able to live without it, but since we moved into our new house we’ve gotten by without a dryer pretty easily.  We talked about buying one at the same time that we bought our washing machine (there were no appliances in the house we bought), but decided to try to live without it and see how it went.  After 20 months, I think I can comfortably say that we don’t really need it.

Rather than spending the money on a dryer and the constant electricity it eats up, we spent $12 on a retractable clothes line for our basement.  I don’t need to worry about lint fires (something that caused one of my wife’s friend’s houses to burn down this winter), upkeep (other than perhaps a new $12 line) or breakdowns with my “old-school” system.

Living without a dryer (especially after having grown up with one) has meant some logistics needed to be taken into consideration, especially in the winter, when things take an extra day or so to dry.  One solution to this was to actually buy more clothes and linen, especially items that need washing more frequently such as clothes I wear to the gym and towels.  The downside of not having a dryer that my wife and I both miss is fluffy towels, which is now a luxury when we go to other people’s places or hotels, but is basically the only major thing that we miss from not having this appliance readily available.

So, is this a world-changing sacrifice, giving up the convenience of this appliance?  Not really at all, but I figure it saved me a few hundred dollars on the initial purchase (or less if I bought used) and probably $100-$200 per year to run it.  Not having a dryer by itself would not make or break my monthly budget, but as a part of a money-saving plan this is one of the many areas that we looked at that has reduced our monthly expenses to as low as we couple possibly get them.

Would I recommend our laundry system to everyone?  There’s only my wife and I in our house, so our laundry needs are not too large, but I think it would be easily done for a large family – in fact I know it’s possible because up until the last hundred years or so people did not have the option of plugging something in to cut the drying time down for their clothes.   I think that most families had more children per family then today and I think that people survived by line-drying.

Electrical smart-meters are being implemented in the coming months in my city, as in most Canadian cities.  Reading about other people’s experiences (which on a whole are not positive) I’m thinking that having one less large appliance adding to my energy costs is not going to be a bad thing.

Could you give up your dryer?  How about your washing machine?  How have you tried to cut back on electricity expenses?

8 thoughts on “We Just Haven’t Needed It Yet”

  1. We don’t use the dryer at all either. If it isn’t there, we don’t bother.

    In other electricity expenses, everything is on a plug. Surprisingly, if you don’t leave your microwave plugged in (and only turn it on when you need it), you can save each month.

    Same with always unplugging your electronics (of course).

  2. Did you really save much $ if you had to buy more clothes (and will need on a regular basis) to compensate?

    In the summer, drying your clothes outside is a great way to save electricity. However, drying them inside on rainy days and when it is too cold outside will increase the humidity inside and increase your AC or Heating costs, since humid air required more energy to cool or heat…

    Are you sure you’re really saving money?

  3. By today’s standards, I have a big family (3 kids and a wife), and we maybe use the dryer 2x a year (to fluff up down jackets). We have lines in our back yard in the summer and I made a rack with 2x2s and string in the basement…

    Chris – humidity actually reduces heating costs, because the air feels warmer

  4. When I moved in August 2009 I didn’t buy a dryer, just a front-loading washer. It’s definitely more pleasant in summer – hanging laundry is a nice way to spend time outside with my dogs – but it’s no problem in winter to hang my clothes on a collapsible wood drying rack I bought.

  5. When I was growing up in the early ’90s, my family dried clothes outside on a clothes line during the warmer months. Fresh bedsheets dried outside smelled wonderful.

  6. @ Chris: They don’t wear out any faster, I just have more clothes. I would have had to buy them anyways eventually, other than the initial up-front (minor) cost it doesn’t really cost much more to own more clothes, other than space.

    I also don’t really use AC other than a few hours around bedtime to cool down the house for sleeping, and our heat is off for all but about 6 hours every day while I’m at work and sleeping.

    @ Kaylen – Hanging outside works as long as the dogs don’t “help” too much.

  7. We have a dryer but don’t use it with two exceptions:

    1. a 5 – 10 minute fluff on low/cool for bath towels after they have line dried. I work hard enough to deserve that. Had many years of cardboard-like towels …

    2. Underwear can not (must not) be dried outside! Acceptable to hang it up inside on a rack/line/etc. In the summer months all clothes (except the delicates) go outside. Winter time they are on racks/lines inside.

    Emergencies excepted, but that’s pretty rare.

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