Clothesline Ban Debate Heats Up as States Consider Legislation

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Once considered a community eyesore, the clothesline is now a hot topic of debate. While clothes dryers use at least 6 percent of all household electricity consumption, many consumers are opting for good ‘ol fashion air drying.

Photo: Flickr/jilldoughtie

Over the next few years, the DOE Appliance Standards program will determine whether to revise the current federal energy conservation standards for dryers. Photo: Flickr/jilldoughtie

But instead of lowering their electric bills, some residents are receiving notices or even fines as clotheslines are commonly against the law in many communities, calling it a marker of poverty that lowers property values, according to The New York Times.

However legislation to protect the clothesline is catching on, most recently in Colorado, Hawaii, Maine and Vermont. While advocates for drying laundry outdoors feel that it is the right of the homeowner, others argue that it brings down the aesthetic appeal of a community.

For Opal Davis, 71, clotheslines are not a symbol of a low-income status, but of energy savings and cleanliness. As a resident of Maryville, Tenn., drying laundry outdoors is legal and common.

“There’s nothing better than getting clothes fresh off the line,” Davis says. “Furthermore, it really cuts down on my electric bill every month. If that option was taken away, I would feel a little cheated.”

Similar bills to protect clotheslines are being considered in Maryland, North Carolina, Oregon and Virginia. If clothesline drying is not an option in your community, the U.S. Department of Energy recommends regularly inspecting dryer vents and using indoor drying racks as an alternative.

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