Making a difference one appliance at a time

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

Some dryers, like this one for sale at Lowes, have an energy saver setting. ( Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

A few months ago, our old gas clothes dryer died.

“Let’s try to get along without a dryer, let’s put in a clothes line,” I enthusiastically said.

So, we had a clothesline put in the backyard at a cost of about $150. We hung our clothes out and they dried quickly. But the complaints began. “The clothes are wrinkled. The towels are as rough as sandpaper.”

We tried shaking the clothes out carefully before we hung them, but that didn’t help much. Neither of us likes to iron.

The whine-o-meter began running almost constantly. Before long, we were shopping for a new dryer. The compromise: “always wash clothes with cold water, try to hang most larger items like sheets and blue jeans outside, and only use the dryer once a week.”

Gas is cheaper than electricity (about 37% less), but we have solar on our roof, so it made sense to convert to electricity. For those of you who are without solar capacity, there are other reasons to change to an electric dryer. Natural gas is not a clean source of fuel. According to the Environmental Defense Fund, it has 50-60% of the CO2 emissions of oil or coal.

Judith Polich/For the Journal

Moreover, New Mexico recently passed the Energy Transitions Act, requiring that all electric generation be 50% emission-free by 2030, 80% by 2040 and 100% by 2050.

PNM, Kit Carson and other utilities promise to beat those requirements. Luis E. Reyes Jr., CEO of Kit Carson Electric Cooperative (KCEC), recently announced, “we will achieve 100% daytime solar by 2021.”

KCEC will meet the requirements of the New Mexico Transition Act 19 years earlier than mandated, he stated. That is pretty impressive.

In 20 years or less, most of our electricity will come from clean sources. If you live up north in KCEC territory, think two years. So, it will make more and more sense to convert to electric appliances.

Another thing to consider is your dryer use. As a family of two, we rarely use our dryer more than two times a week. Our electric use is probably no more than $60 a year. According to the online Energy Use Calculator (energyusecalculator.com), the electric use of a dryer for an average family costs $100 a year. When you buy a replacement dryer that is energy efficient, you can get a $75 rebate from PNM. Most other utilities also offer rebates. Energy Star dryers are about 20% more efficient than those that are not rated.

As we work on becoming a household with a lower carbon footprint, our decisions are based on what’s practical. There are many things we can all do to cut our carbon footprint.

There are tools available that can help you compute your carbon footprint. Check out the carbon footprint calculator on the EPA website: www3.epa.gov/carbon-footprint-calculator/. It is a useful exercise and will give you lots of ideas about how you can lower your household emissions. Once you have computed your household carbon footprint, compare your footprint with those of people in other countries. Europeans typically have a carbon footprint that is about half of ours.

A clothes dryer might seem like a really small way to attack your carbon footprint, but because we all need to replace appliances periodically, it’s one thing that we can all do.

When we shopped around, the staff at Home Depot and Best Buy were very helpful. But we had to ask, “What will it cost to run this model?” “What is its efficiency rating?” They looked everything up for us.

Consider getting the most energy-efficient appliances you can afford. It is simply a mistake to think that as individuals there is very little we can do about climate change. We can’t just rely on governments to compel changes that lower our carbon footprint. There is a lot that we can do now in our individual households and that is where we need to start.

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