Encouraging more people to get their laundry out of the dryer and hanging on the line, Energy Minister Gerry Phillips is set to override agreements that forbid clotheslines in parts of Ontario.

New regulations should be in place in time for summer to reduce electricity use and pollution, Phillips said yesterday in announcing a 60-day public consultation period on the issue — with homebuilders expected to raise concerns.

It all stems from two decades of legal deals known as restrictive covenants between developers and homebuyers outlawing the use of clotheslines in many large, urban subdivisions for aesthetic reasons — largely because it’s hard to sell a new house with someone’s laundry flapping in the breeze.

"Conservation is a huge, important issue for the province," Phillips said, noting people can save $30 per year just by hanging one-quarter of their wet clothes on the line.

It’s not known how many developments forbid clotheslines but Phillips acknowledged most Ontarians are already free to hang their wash, as his family does at both home and the cottage.

Ontario’s new rules will apply to free-standing houses, semi-detached homes and row houses. More consultations will take place on what to do at condominiums and in highrises because of "safety issues," Phillips said.