Friday, November 20, 2009

Math and Laundry

As reported by Reuters (and picked up at such interesting news sources as this and this), one Carin Froehlich of Perkasie, PA, has stirred up local debate because she practices the barbaric habit of hanging her laundry out to dry in the fresh Pennsylvania air and sunshine.

Her struggle against those who would make her hang her "unmentionables" somewhere else has even prompted her to write a book on this topic. Toward the end of the article, however, I encountered this quote from Mrs. Froehlich:

Besides, it saves money. Line-drying laundry for a family of five saves $83 a month in electric bills, she said.
Not so fast.

$83 a month? The article states that Mrs. Froehlich is 54 years old, and there's a picture of her average-sized-looking house, so I am presuming she does not have an army of youth living at home. On the other hand, I have four growing children, and my entire electric bill doesn't even come close to $83 most months. Not to mention the fact that we use lights, a computer, TV sets, etc., etc.

I suppose if Mrs. Froehlich is using one of the worst energy-efficient dryers in the commonwealth, and likes to change her clothes five times each day, it might be possible to use that much electricity in a month.

But I suspect this is the more accurate statement:
A dryer is typically the second-biggest electricity-using appliance after the refrigerator, costing about $85 to operate annually.
The media is not generally composed of experts in mathematics or statistics; take numeric data with a grain (or many grains) of salt.

P.S. On the entire matter of whether hanging laundry is a barbaric practice to be stamped out and made illegal, I offer the following premises:

1. To hang one's undergarments (or those of the family) in public view is never in good taste, and should be discouraged. Hanging other laundry is quite acceptable. If you live where families can see your backyard, keep this in mind.

2. To make illegal the practice of hanging laundry is grossly inconsistent with the other tenets of the use-environmental-regulations-to-control-people crowd. (See also #3)

3. To make illegal the practice of hanging laundry is to essentially admit that you really don't believe that whole "man-made global warming" baloney.

4. On the other hand, if you joined a homeowner's association of your own free will, and that association doesn't allow the hanging of laundry, then keep your word and don't do it. Until you can legitimately convince the association to change, that is.


Brenda said...

Your electric bill doesn't even come CLOSE to $83 a month??? Then we are being robbed blind. Ours is well into the 3-digit category. Maybe I should be hanging out all my laundry then? But then who would be watching my children and cooking and grocery shopping for me?? Not even CLOSE??

Ken said...

I went back and did some calculation...over the past 12 electric bills, the average was $57.41 per month. We have an electric clothes dryer. We heat our house with a natural gas furnace and, living in Michigan, the AC doesn't get overworked like it does in some parts of the country.

In the five years we have lived in our house, we have never had an electric bill over $90. So, perhaps you are being robbed blind?

Peter Matesevac said...

Last month, I had my first su b-200 dollar electric bill that I can remember (for our 1,100 sf townhouse aprtment). Needless to say, I am grossly jealous.

Brenda Brough said...

Ahhhh.....natural gas. Well that explains it. We are all electric where the A/C is run almost continuously from the months of April/May to early October. Not to mention the ceiling fans, electric washer/dryer, computer, etc.

Ken said...

FYI: Just got a bill for 10/19 to 11/17 today. 662 KWH, $51.47. Did not hang laundry outside at any time during this month.

A Conservative Teacher said...

What kind of a world do we live in where you have to provide some sort of environmentally friendly justification for hanging out your laundry to dry? What kind of a world is it where freedom and liberty is not a good reason but 'saving the environment' is a good reason? It's sick.