You are not crazy for hanging laundry & other electric tales

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One of the things I wanted to get better at managing when I wasn’t working was paying attention to the peak electricity cycles. When I was home full time we were both really good at conserving energy but as soon as we are both working it’s managing time more than anything else.

We find that during those times we manage to use a lot of electricity during the peak hours because we do chores when we can, not when it’s cheapest. For example, the majority of the cooking and laundry is done during peak or mid-peak hours because Mr. Tucker works from home and throws some loads in.

So yesterday when the entire family was at the community Family Fun Day at our local park, I found myself coming home periodically to hang laundry on the line. Even though we were in off-peak hours, it was a beautiful day and I wanted to take advantage of the sun’s bleaching capabilities to get stains out of some of the clothes.

Still, as I hung a dark load inside on the drying rack in our room, I couldn’t help but feel a little foolish for spending time hanging laundry when my family was hanging out at the park. As I set up our fan to help move the air, I wondered if this exercise was even economical enough to justify my efforts.

So naturally, I figured I’d do the math.

Because the internet is wonderful (and I am terrible at extensive calculations) I used an online energy calculator here and used the wattage on the back of my own appliances for the calculations in most of the cases. For the stove/oven, I used the average wattage I found on the internet because I couldn’t be bothered to pull it out to look on the back. Still, even with variations in models it should give you an idea of the cost to cook with a convection oven, a Crockpot or in an oven.

In our area, the prices for electricity are as follows:

Peak: 16.1 ¢ / kwh
Mid-peak: 12.2 ¢ / kwh
Off-peak: 8 ¢ / kwh

Here are the charts for some common-use appliances. The average run time here for most appliances are 1 hour unless indicated otherwise (as in comparing cooking methods, as 1 hour in the oven = 4-8 hours in the crockpot depending on the setting).


PHEW, that was a lot of work!

So looking at this chart, there are some great takeaways now that I can see the true cost of electricity for various appliances. Indeed, even a quick comparison of peak vs. off-peak times of all these appliances tells me I could save $617.61 just by switching the times of day I use electricity. Naturally, I didn’t need to create these charts to know that given the peak cost of 16.1¢ and the off-peak cost of 8¢. Still, I found it interesting to see just how expensive various appliances are.

Conclusions:

– I am not crazy for hanging laundry! If we hung 100% of our laundry a year we would save $164 to $330. Even if I use the house fan to speed up the hang-dry process, it would only cost us $4.70 a year. We have a drying rack in our room that we have had for years (the one pictured at the top of the post and I see you can buy it for $70 today. We’ve had ours for 7 years and it’s still going strong) and it fits exactly one load of laundry. Even if you paid that exorbitant price for a drying rack, you are still ahead financially by $260.

– Crockpot use is completely worthwhile. $.12 (8 hrs) vs. $.39 for the oven (1hr) and $.24 for the convection/toaster oven (1hr). While 100% crockpot use is not really feasible (it would get old, fast) it’s good to know that if I need to get dinner on the table quickly and I have no plan, something that fits into the toaster oven is a good bet. Luckily, the internet loves crockpots and articles such as this one have tons of great ideas for meals. The library has great books, too.

– My breadmaker was a gift but it retailed for about $200 when it was purchased. The electricity costs to bake a loaf during off-peak hours on the highest setting is $.40. I buy all our baking ingredients in bulk and so even being generous with ingredient costs, a loaf of basic bread is probably about $.80. Considering I can’t buy a decent loaf of bread for less than $2 (bread has become ridiculously expensive in our area), I can pay for the price of a brand-new breadmaker in ¾ of a year if we ate a loaf a day. Sure, we could make bread by hand and pop it in the oven for $.19 off off-peak usage but that would take a lot of time with kneading, waiting etc. A breadmaker is one of those tools that saves you time and money. I’d rather just pop some ingredients into the machine, turn it on, go to bed and then wake up with fresh bread. Our machine also makes mini-baguettes, which I find also ups the “wow” factor in brown bag lunches.

I didn’t factor in the cost of most of these appliances but my stove is 20 years old, my crockpot is 15 years old, the convection oven was a gift, and the fan was a trash picking find. Of course, you will need to do the math with your own appliances and electricity costs but I think overall the takeaway here is that reduced use of heat-creating appliances is financially worthwhile.

One Comment on “You are not crazy for hanging laundry & other electric tales

  1. Great article! Thanks for the link to the calculator. I’ll have to reconsider how we manage our energy consumption.