put up a clothes line as a green project
Photo: Rob Howard
Build a clothesline.
1. Build a clothesline

Next to your refrigerator, your dryer is likely the biggest energy-guzzling appliance in your house. And while we wouldn't ask you to store your food in a vintage icebox, an old-fashioned clothesline is actually a pretty good idea. (If that sounds too retro, think of it as a "solar dryer" instead.)

You can buy a pulley kit like the one pictured above at the hardware store. Or you can order the components online—clotheslineshop.com for instance, will ship you two Ts made of metal pipe, plus the fittings and rope. But it's easy to make a traditional clothesline yourself, using 4x4 or 6x6 pressure-treated posts for the uprights and 2x8s for the cross arms (which don't need to be pressure-treated). Simply notch the posts to receive the cross arms, set them in concrete, and run the lines on eye hooks between them. A 4- or 5-foot cross arm should give you enough room for five lengths of line, nicely spaced.

Lumber: $42
Hardware: $10
100 feet of line and 100 wood clothespins: $17
*Total: $69

2. Add a tube-type skylight

There's at least one place in your house—a dark stairwell, a north-facing bathroom, a rear hallway—where you can't see what you're doing without turning on a light, even in the daytime. That's the ideal spot for a light tube, which lets you bring in the sun's rays without the hassle or expense of installing a conventional skylight. These so-called "sun tunnels" capture light through a plastic lens mounted on the roof, bounce it down through the attic inside a reflective tube, and beam it out through a plastic diffuser in the ceiling. From the inside looking up, you see what appears to be a no-frills light fixture. (Some models have bulbs inside, so you can get light day or night from the same spot.) True, you don't get a sky view, but you also don't have the energy loss associated with standard roof windows. Tubular skylights are much easier to install, because the tubing fits between roof rafters and frees you from having to build a shaft to get the light through the attic. If you're handy, it's a half-day project. And if you're not, you can hire a pro and still come in under the $500 cap.

14-inch tube kit with flashing, sealant, and 4 feet of duct: $229
Extension tubes: Two 20-inch sections at $40 each
*Total: $309
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