Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Go Green: Install a Solar Clothes Dryer

The most significant contribution most of us can individually make to energy conservation and a green economy is to install an outdoor solar clothes line, sometimes also referred to as a “wind energy drying device.”

Sunlight, perhaps aided by a gentle wind, can dry our clothes with a zero carbon footprint. Solar drying can even work in freezing weather. The moisture will freeze, and then the ice will sublimate into the atmosphere.

Electric clothes dryers account for 6% of household electrical consumption. Solar clothes dryers: 0%.

Solar energy through solar panels is still not economically viable after decades of substantial investment, research and development. A popular joke during the energy crisis’ of the 1970’s was that solar energy would never succeed until either the government could tax it or oil companies profit from it.

ARCO abandoned solar energy in 1989 after investing over $200 million in it without ever earning a profit.

Rather than taxing solar energy, the federal and state governments are still providing subsidies through tax credits to solar panel installations.

The solar clothes dryer requires only a small initial investment in the clothes line and clothes pins, with zero maintenance. Replacement costs are also de minimus.

So who could possibly oppose it? Zoning boards and community associations. Hang them out to dry!

The main objection is aesthetics; images of a century ago of clothes lines extended on the front and back porches and strung across streets in tenements.

A “Right to Dry” movement has arisen across America demanding changes in these archaic rules and views.

Some community associations, aka homeowners associations (HOA’s), enforce mindless conformity through the covenants, conditions and restrictions (CCR’s) running with the deeds. These agreements are often 30-100 pages long and indecipherable even to lawyers.

Some of the governing boards are run by petty bureaucrats who enforce bans against the American flag, political signs, solar panels, and, until the federal government intervened, satellite dishes.

About 61% of Orange County’s residents in 750,000 residences live in 1400 HOA’s. Fortunately, we are not one of them.

The Right to Dry movement has won several legislative victories. Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Maine, Utah and Vermont have legislatively invalidated the CCA covenants.

Colorado, Florida, and Utah have also preempted local zoning restrictions to allow the use of solar clothes dryers.

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