Saturday, 6 September 2008

The green kitchen

For the purposes of this week’s column, the kitchen shall embrace the tumble dryer – even if the dryer is in a different room. And it will get a shock. The most efficient tumble dryers, according to figures published by the sustainability group Market Transformation Programme (, use electricity at a rate of 2.3-2.5kWh for 4.5kg of laundry (the smallest load its studies measure). The least efficient use 80-90 per cent more.

The environmental and financial cost is enormous. Karen Lawrence from the Energy Saving Trust ( says that we spend £400 million a year on drying laundry, producing eight million tonnes of CO2 and using enough electricity “to power almost all the homes in Greater Manchester for a year”.

What can you do? Well, you can buy a more efficient tumble dryer. But more sparing use of it is an even better option. And yes, the alternative to tumbling is air drying, but I wager that you will be converted once you’ve got the hang of it (no pun intended). Watch this space for detailed advice on air drying.

In the meantime, here are some intermediate steps to more environmentally responsible drying. One: make sure that your laundry has spun at at least 1400rpm in the washing machine. This cuts the water content by around 20 per cent over 1000rpm, thus cutting time in the dryer. Two: buy a folding clothes rack and put it next to the dryer. Tumble dry the load for 20 minutes, then let it finish drying on the rack. This is better for clothing, causing less mechanical and thermal stress on the fabric.

And three: never, ever tumble dry items like tea towels and napkins. You can buy small, wall-mounted racks that will accommodate them. Once they’re back in the Green Kitchen, you’ll never know they haven’t seen the inside of your dryer.

full article

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