Last Saturday at 8:30 p.m., I was busy running around the house, turning on every light and appliance in honor of Earth Hour. And don’t even try to act appalled that I have my own ways of celebrating. If everyone in the world turned off their lights and appliances in “honor” of Earth Day, the effect would be the same as shutting off China’s carbon emissions for a grand total of (wait for it…) 45 seconds.
But that’s not even the point. You see, I’m kind of fond of electricity. Proud of the fact that we are as advanced as we are in 2011. I pondered the thought that barely more than 100 years ago, we’d have had no choice but to spend Earth Hour in the dark (ok – maybe by candlelight or an oil lamp… talk about your carbon footprint… heehee) after having spent the day washing clothes at the creek on the wash board, cooking three square meals over a wood-fired stove and, if we were lucky, hitching up the wagon for a ride into town for a visit to the general store.
So instead of condemning electricity to the threshold of H-E-double-hockey-sticks, I think we have much to celebrate on this day. Electricity is a good thing. Even the people at School House Rock know it. Which is why I paused at my High Efficiency washer and dryer. As I said earlier, I’d been scrambling around the house to ensure every appliance was running at full steam. The dryer was not, although less than five minutes prior, I’d turned it on.
You see, my high efficiency dryer thinks it’s smarter than me – thinks it knows better than I – and decides for me when my clothes are dry. As in, forget a load and you can also forget about running a quick fluff-and-fold cycle. Well, maybe not entirely true. Just forget about getting any fluff (or heat, for that matter). Because the dryer doesn’t know you’d like a little heat action – especially on those all-too-familiar cold Kentucky mornings. Nope. All it knows is the clothes aren’t wet. So, as far as this smart machine is concerned, its job is done.
As for the high efficiency front-loading washing machine? Well, as many of you know, it doesn’t even have an agitator – meaning you have to put in as many clothes as possible in order for it to clean properly without tangling and wrinkling the clothes. I’d like to point out that such a move is in staunch contradiction to everything my mother ever taught me about washing clothes. It was rule No. 1 if I remember correctly: Never overload the washing machine.
To make matters worse, the people at Consumer Reports found that since the advent of these high efficiency, low-energy using machines, our clothes are dirtier now than in the days of the non-energy-compliant top-loaders. Because continually tightening government regulations aka electricity efficiency standards have rendered what was once an affordable, well-running product to an over-priced regulation-abiding product that doesn’t. Never mind the issues with mold. And once that washing machine door locks, don’t expect to fling in a stray dish cloth without dynamiting the door open and flooding the laundry area.
Those pesky energy efficiency standards lead to yet another issue where HE washers are concerned:
In front-loading machines, washing can take up to two hours on some heavy-soil settings, although 50 to 100 minutes is more typical for normal wash cycles. A standard wash cycle in a top loader, by contrast, ranges from 35 to 60 minutes. -Consumer Reports
Might I suggest you whistle a nice little tune while you wait. Anywho, Consumer Reports also had this to say in 2007:
“For the first time in years, we can’t call any washer a Best Buy.”
When will all this madness end? Keep dreamin’ – it’s not going anywhere. Earlier this month, the Senate Energy Committee held hearings on a bill to “improve energy efficiency of certain appliances and equipment, and for other purposes, and S.395, the Better Use of Light Bulbs Act (Hearing Room SD-366).”
In other words, they’re about to tighten the noose around Everyday America’s purse strings once again. But don’t worry. This will serve to make those feel-good politicians, um, feel better about themselves, give more power to the always-hungry-for-more-power bureaucrats in DC, and shut up the environmentalist wackos. At least for a few minutes. And the industry will receive plenty of perks in green tax benefits.
But I’m sure there’s nothing to worry about. Let’s just be content with half-clean clothes that only get half-dry. At least HE washers and dryers don’t cause a haz-mat issue like those curly-q light bulbs… Right?!? I’m just sayin…