Listed in Air Conditioning & Refrigeration
Outdoor drying (sometimes called air-drying) with a clothes line or rotary dryer has several big advantages: it’s free, it uses no energy (so it’s environmentally friendly), it generally leaves your clothes smelling fresh, and it means you don’t make your home damp and cold by drying things inside. The drawbacks include the time taken to dry things (which can range from a few hours to a day or more), the chance of rain making your clothes wetter than they were when you hung them out, the risk of theft, and the possibility of air pollution making your clothes dirty again.
Producing steam from water requires a huge amount of energy, known as the latent heat of vaporization (you can read more about this in our article on states of matter). How much energy, exactly? Suppose the wet clothes from your washing machine contain 2kg (4.9lb) of water at 15°C (59°F). To get rid of that water, let’s say you use an electric tumble dryer, which first heats the water from 15°C to 100°C (from 59°F to 212°F), using about 700kJ of energy, and then turns it into 2 kg of steam at the same temperature, using another 4500kJ of energy and making about 5200kJ (1.4 kilowatt hours) of energy in total. That’s about as much as running an energy-saving lamp continually for 6 days and nights. Electric dryers are expensive to run, not so much because they’re inefficient, but because of the basic physics involved: it takes lots of energy to turn cold water into hot steam—and there’s really no way around that.
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