Getting people to do their part to curb energy consumption is difficult enough without outdated aesthetics standing in the way. In many areas across the United States, however, community regulations are nixing energy-saving tools like clotheslines and solar panels as neighborhood blight.
Hanging clothes out to dry is an exceptionally easy way to significantly cut back on energy consumption. Caitlin Carpenter of the Christian Science Monitor reports that ‘dryers consume 1,079 kilowatt hours of energy per household, creating 2,224 pounds of carbon-dioxide emissions,’ according to the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers. Natural drying, however, is frowned upon and banned by many homeowner associations (HOAs) obsessed with maintaining pristine, highly manicured neighborhoods.
A grassroots movement is challenging state governments to protect citizens’ ‘right to dry’ by ditching such community regulations. Following the lead of North Carolina, Florida, and Utah, Vermont is the most recent state to try to pass legislation that bans clothesline bans. On the national scale, the nonprofit Project Laundry List provides legislative advice to promote the use of clotheslines and energy sustainability.
Another energy-saving tool that has raised the ire of the community beauty police is the solar panel. According to Isabelle Groc of High Country News (subscription required), citizens and businesses in Los Gatos, California, have been ordered to remove or hide solar paneling by the city. After a lawsuit was filed against the city, the state of California was forced to step in and pass the Solar Right Act, which prevents ‘local governments from denying solar energy permits on the basis of aesthetics alone,’ Groc reports. Solar panel-protection efforts are also underway on the national level. According to AlterNet, ‘a bill was introduced in the US House of Representatives in March that, if passed, will protect homeowners nationwide from HOA solar bans.’
When the Joneses Go Solar
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