Andrea — January 12, 2013
Ted posted last year about the challenge of choosing a dryer for a passive house. Here is the solution we came up with:
It works fine, adds some welcome humidity, and of course saves electricity. If heat pump dryers ever reach these shores we may consider getting one, but this works great for now.
In case you're wondering, the space with the checkered floor is the garden area, which I plan to populate very soon!
I ran a set of three lines between two doorways at opposite ends of our upstairs hallway. Works well and aswe heat only with wood, we need the moisture in the winter. If I've washed two or three loads of laundry (2 kids = much more laundry) I might see the humidity in the house peak to 70%, but it doesn't stay there long. Haven't seen any issues with moisture in the house in the winter - only in the summer when it is too humy id outside, too.
BTW, we are up north of Putney, off-the-grid, solar with battery set, propane generator backup. Unfortunately, not the tightest house in Vermont, but so far seems to be working well.
I think many people would be shocked at how much energy a dryer uses. I've been hanging clothes out on a line for years - even in winter (yes, almost instantaneously frozen sheets and jeans are fun!) and use a wooden rack in the house for some things. Works like a charm and really takes no more time than transferring items from washer to dryer and then unloading and folding. Added benefit - fresh air and a bit of exercise.
You need one of those pulley type wash lines up there.
And - I'm not convinced such tight houses are necessarily a good thing. Air circulation is necessary!
We need to set up clothes lines over the gap for drying. What you see there is our laziness at work, but I think you're both right that we can't keep doing it this way without discoloring the wood. The trick is that the opening you see is ten feet above the floor below, so to put clothes on it will require a ladder or some ingenuity. I have some ideas...
BTW, despite having the tightest house in Vermont (which may be hyperbole, but is still probably not far from the truth), we do not have a humidity problem, because we get lots of air exchanges through the HRV. More on this in an upcoming post.
Len, when are you coming to visit? :)
What happened to putting the dryer in the garage?
If a passive house laundry room was outside the airtight envelope it would be possible to use standard equipment (European or American) for laundry, right? I might be concerned about an unheated garage, as ice in a dryer (let alone a washer) sounds like trouble - but the "in the garage" and outside the envelope idea strikes me as a good solution. Perhaps a basement space isolated from the envelope and heated separately? Or a small, closet-sized insulated and heated section of garage?
Our dryer is sitting in the (unheated, detached) garage, but we haven't bothered hooking it up yet, and I doubt we will. We're enjoying the energy savings of air drying, and Ted and I don't generate enough laundry for it to be an inconvenience.
We have friends who do this too - they've never owned a drier. Our (and neighbours) 20 year old subburb homes are far too tight though. Cooking from scratch will leave condensation running down windows and we have to leave a bedroom window open a crack all winter (and the bath fan on low speed every night) to keep the humidity down and air quality up. Our home rated 4.9 ACH (air changes per hour) via the blower door test.
I'd opt for a cheap rack before the wood finish is damaged.
Andrea & Ted
Though I wonder if water from the cloth will stain the wood over time?
PS: thanks for another picture. It's a great house.
Few architecture schools teach anything about energy-efficiency, so make sure your architect knows the basics. Get them a copy of Designing the Exterior Wall: An Architectural Guide to the Vertical Envelope by Linda Brock
and make them read it.