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Clothes dryers are the third largest energy consuming appliance in the average home, after refrigerators and stoves. What could be a simpler way to conserve energy than hanging your clothes outside?Unfortunately, using the sun and the wind to dry clothes is illegal in many subdivisions, due to a ‘no clothesline’ rule in their covenants. These covenants have been a cheap, popular way for developers to make their suburbs look middle class. Yards without clotheslines show that people in the neighbourhood have enough cash to buy and use gas or electric dryers. But as energy conservation acquires cachet, the anti-clothesline stigma is disappearing.Municipalities, recognizing the benefits of clotheslines, are also beginning to take action. The City of London this week voted to ask all local developers to allow backyard clotheslines in new subdivisions, and has promised to permit them under zoning bylaws. And the Town of Aurora has called on the province to use its Energy Conservation Leadership Act to wipe out all clothesline restrictions in Ontario. So far, the province hasn’t used this fancy new statute to do anything, but all it would take is a new regulation designating clotheslines as energy-conserving goods. Such a regulation can, if the Province wishes, override all subdivision covenants and zoning bylaws that prohibit clotheslines.

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