I’ve long used the clothesline to dry my laundry out in the sun and fresh air. Unlike some other people, I don’t give a flip if somebody thinks I’m poor. But for those who have no idea the cost of drying their clothes: the annual average of running a dryer is a calculated $160 across a few websites, some of which might be linked in this post. That’s 1600% more than what it cost these folks to build and install a clothesline.

I installed my “clothesline elevator” when I first moved in, right at my back door, close to the laundry room. It is a device that raises and lowers the pulley by about a meter, so that the laundry hangs overhead and not dragging on the ground. My back door is at a lower elevation than the rest of the backyard.

When I shortened my deck in September, the 2×4 that I used to suspend the other end of the clothesline’s pulley came crashing down. The 4 screws that held it in place were leaving scrappy holes in the fencepost from all that tension. I decided to save the fence and find a new place to install the pulley’s 2×4, but the only other place I found made for a shorter clothesline. So, loathe to cut the line without having considered all my options, I took the clothesline down for the winter.

But then I saw a good suggestion for hanging a clothesline indoors: a clever $5 clothesline that anyone, and I mean anyone, could put up in their apartment, so you could dry your clothes any time of year (except when the weather’s too humid). I found I had the right kind and length of rope in my camping supplies. It requires eyelet screws to run a rope through, and a cleat to attach the rope to. Because you’ll run the rope every time you need to dry a load, and so you’ll tie it to the cleat; when you’re done, you’ll put the rope away.

Upon further research, though, I don’t need to install a temporary clothesline. My laundry room already has two shower rails to hang clothes from. I also have a clothes drying rack. And this past summer, we had a humid spell that was making my posters and photos curl in my basement, so I acquired an old dehumidifier. It turns out it is the perfect solution for drying clothes indoors on a cool autumn or cold Canadian winter day (it also produces a bit of heat). Here’s why:

Your clothes dryer is literally the biggest energy sucker in your home. After the cost of running baseboard heaters and the refrigerator, your clothes dryer is throwing money out the window when you run it in winter.

When you run a bathroom fan, kitchen fan, or the clothes dryer, you’re venting out hot air and depressurizing your home, which will suck in cold air through the cracks, seams, and openings to the outside. Rather than create a pressure differential and heat the air twice, it makes a lot more sense to use a dehumidifier in the laundry room. It will pull the water out of the clothes you’ve put out to dry. The heat of the unit will be welcome.

Already, electric heat is drying, so I don’t run the fan in the bathroom for showers –   I crack the bathroom door to vent the humidity to the house. (You could hang your wet clothes around for the same purpose… but if you do so, please do it neatly, like the $5 clothes line, above.)

I’ve already started using the dehumidifier in my laundry room. I’m impressed with the speed of fabric drying time, and the state of my slow-drying towels. They, and sheets too, don’t dry stiff.

My dryer is about 20 years old and brags that it uses 111 kWh per month. Hardly an EnergyStar. I don’t know the rating on the dehumidifier, but it’s surely lower than that by far.

I can use the distilled water in the reservoir for the clothes iron, my pets’ water bottles, or for watering the houseplants.

But if that doesn’t persuade you, and you don’t know the other options are out there, check out this blog post on the Green Home Building Advisor website. When I moved to Denmark, I was exposed to some of these options that I didn’t know existed for drying ones’ clothes.

If passive houses – which is what I’d love my home to be – were found here in North America more often, we may have an easier time installing some of their technology into standard homes.

I’d love to get a thermographic scan of my house, and upgrade the insulation – particularly in my brown/green bedroom, where the outside wall is siding and not brick, and it has building wrap/insulation/vapour barrier issues. It’s way too hot in summer and too cold in winter, and the closet is the part that overhangs my front step, so it’s cold on 3 sides. I sense this could be an expensive one to fix. If it brings me closer to an energy efficiency that pays off, it’s a tool for my entrepreneurial wish to help other homeowners lower their environmental impact, too.