Eco Homes need new ways to dry clothes – new research shows

oliver Fabrics, Healthy spaces, Technology/ Energy Saving

New research by the Mackintosh School of Architecture showed that 75% of the homes visited had moisture levels that would promote dust mite growth and the risk of breathing difficulties. This was largely caused by home owners drying their washing indoors in the winter months. In fact one washing load being laid out across a home to dry may introduce 2 litres of airbourne moisture – to homes that generally had inadequate levels of ventilation. Out of 100 houses surveyed 87% dried their clothes indoors.

So just how are we to dry our washing at home without spending a fortune in energy and drying machines? Well as ever good design has the answers………

Statistics show that of all our domestic appliances, tumble dryers are the most energy hungry, with power consumption ranging from around 2 kWh to 5 kWh per cycle. This can result in CO2 emissions of around 330 kg to over 800 kg per year.


According to statistics, out of nearly 25 million households in the UK, 54% own a tumble dryer. Those are some serious numbers. At a conservative estimate, if we say that about 40% of those households use the tumble dryer frequently, that’s nearly ten million households using machines regularly. If each household used their dryer just once less often a year, it could save over eighteen million kilograms (18,000 tons) of C02. Enough to power 90,000 street lights.


So, there are clearly massive amounts of energy being used here, but most people would swear they couldn’t do without their tumble dryer, right? Well, I believe differently, and if we were just to think harder about utilising the untapped energy and warmth in our homes, we could approach clothes drying differently and realise we could do without the dryer altogether.


In my own home we use a clothes drying rack, which utilises warm air (created by the south facing window, and an ultra small radiator) which is drawn up and out via the heat recovery system vent in the ceiling. This allows warm air to circulate around the damp clothes creating warm moist air, helping to heat the rest of the house.



For those of you interested in internal drying racks with a bit of style, these Usethings racks are made of timber and suspended from the ceiling, so you can hoist your clothes up to where the warm air collects. Plus, it means your wet clothes are up and out of your way.



But, if you aren’t able to fit a full heat recovery system to your home, don’t despair, as Vent-Axia have recently launched the Lo-CarbonTM Tempra heat recovery fan, which could allow you to do the same thing on a room-by-room basis. It’s the first single room heat recovery unit on the market, which allows us all to quickly and easily replace existing, inefficient fans with a discrete, low energy and continuously running alternative. Although continuos running the fans use very little energy costing around £4 a year to run, making them perfect for the rental and social housing market.



The Heat Recovery Ventilation System by Villavent is designed to completely change the air in a property every two hours. Good news, especially when you learn that centrally heated homes have air pollution on average ten times worse than the air outside. The system recovers 60-70% of the heat normally lost through trickle vents and other weak points in the building’s structure.



But, for those of you stuck on your tumble dryer, these clever little balls of joy can do something to help. The Dryerballs lift and separate laundry, reducing both creasing and drying times.



I’ve also found this interesting competition, launched by Levi’s, looking at drying clothes (specifically jeans) at home. It’s good to see a big fashion company with a conscience considering the lifecycle of their products. The Care to Air Design Challenge asks entrants to find a way to eliminate the tumble dryer by improving the basic clothesline idea. And with $10,000 up for grabs for the winner, how’s that for an incentive?



And lastly, for an existing alternative to the tumble dryer, what about this BreezeDry cabinet that offers a gentle, eco-friendly alternative to your machine? Simply place your clothes inside and choose outdoor air, indoor air or gently warmed air for perfect drying every time.



So, next time you’re about to bung your wet laundry in the tumble dryer or hang it out to dry at home, have a think about alternative drying methods. There are plenty to choose from without welcoming those dangerous dust mites and affecting your health.