Hanging a Clothesline: The Quickest Way to Play Robin Hood with Xcel

April 29 2009, 12:07 PM

When I moved into my tiny house a year ago, I wondered what to expect from my energy bills. I was coming from a much-coveted, all-bills-included rental, and it had been a while since I'd had Xcel sticker shock.

I was told $30-40 a month, which seemed reasonable and fit my budget.

But then the first bill came--and it was $75. It quickly rose to $90, then crept steadily into the three-digit range.

I will admit two things here.

First, this is the first time I've had a washer and dryer in my home. They're combined into a wee stacked unit, but for someone living solo who wants to throw in a load of wash now and again, they work well. My initial excitement at not having to save quarters, schlep heavy bags of dirty clothes into my car, and pull other people's foreign and stinky lint from Laundromat driers manifested in me cleaning every bit of clothing and bedding in my home too frequently.

Second, I promised myself that after college I would no longer wear outerwear in my home to save on heating bills. I'm not extravagant, but I don't wear mittens to type anymore.

But I also turn out all the lights when I leave, keep the heat at a reasonable temp, and even unplug everything when I'm not home. When the bills didn't budge, I eyed my dryer. After some advice from friends, I put up a clothesline in an L shape across my tiny lawn and bought a big bag of clothespins.

Results: Seeing my duds hanging in the breeze is an adorable sight, but once they're off the line, they're often not as soft as when they're tumble-dried.

Savings: I have saved $40-50 per month on my Xcel bill.

The time: It takes around 10 minutes to hang one load of wash, and on a bright, sunny Colorado day they dry over the course of an afternoon.

The bragging rights: It's simple, easy, and allows you to save enough to buy a few rounds at the bar, which definitely earns some respect. Just remember to take the unmentionables down before inviting company.

Related: Save a little extra dough by making your own laundry detergent.