In today’s economy, who doesn’t want to save money? And if you care about climate change or peak oil, then all’s the more reason to ease off or even cut out major appliances that make us all burn more coal, nukes and fracked gas without providing much benefit in our daily lives.
- Clothes dryer. Why do you still have one of these? You already know they ruin your clothes, slowly shrinking them while wearing out the fabric (just check the lint filter). Dryers are also one of your home’s biggest energy users, easily replaced by air drying, either on a clothesline or inside on a drying rack. Sure, unless you live in the Mohave Desert, a machine will dry your clothes faster. But it only takes a little bit of planning to realize just how few situations in life require that lavender polo shirt to be washed, dry and ready to wear in the next 90 minutes.
- Dishwasher. Every family with a teenager hopes that a dishwasher will make it less unpleasant to clean up after dinner. But it’s all about the loading and the unloading. When you still have piles of dirty dishes on the counter and a load of clean ones hanging out inside the unit for days or weeks, then you know you’re not saving any labor over washing dishes by hand. The next time our dishwasher breaks down, I’m not paying to fix it. Then my family can all enjoy the Zen of wiping and scrubbing. With the right attitude, it’s like a warm bath for your hands.
- Microwave oven. The science may not be all in, but common sense will tell you that zapping your food with radio waves might do something funny to it. It’s so energy efficient, that we’re not giving up the microwave entirely yet. But the toaster oven and little pots on the stove will help us transition back to safer old-school re-heating.
If your ambition is truly Amish and you aspire to live in a World Made by Hand, there’s no end to appliances and electronics you can give up — gas heating and electric AC; iPods and iPads; and of course, my favorite metaphor for everything that’s bad about consumer society, big screen TV. You can even do without a refrigerator if you’re good enough at canning, drying and fermenting.
But all that’s a pretty tall order. Why not start small, and begin with the big stuff? That’s where you’ll save the most money and the most energy with the least sacrifice.
— Erik Curren, Transition Voice