Greening Your Laundry Rooms

By Keat Foong, Executive EditorEnergy and water efficiency in equipment used in common laundry areas is increasingly important to apartment owners and managers, whether the machines are leased or owned. “When it comes to community laundry areas in multi-housing, the prevailing trend is improved efficiency. Developers and owners, like all of us, are seeking to lower water and utility costs,” agrees Dick Casey, director of multi-housing sales at Alliance Laundry Systems (ALS), a commercial laundry equipment specialist that manufactures Speed Queen. Laundry route operators are getting more questions from apartment owners about the green aspects of their machines, according to David Feild, executive director of the Multi-housing Laundry Association (MLA). Apartment renters, he says, are also becoming more interested in efficient washers and dryers, although the savings do not accrue directly to them. Manufacturers have been incorporating energy and water efficiency into coin/card-operated equipment. Indeed, it can certainly help route operators or suppliers get more business from apartment companies when they can say “yes, we do use water- and energy-efficient equipment,” says Feild. MHN research of some of the leading laundry manufacturers shows innovations in this area. Energy- or water-saving trends in machines include options for different types of loads, Energy Star compliance and front-loading washers. Among manufacturers, Maytag has more energy-saving laundry solutions than any other commercial laundry brand, asserts Randy Karn, national sales manager for Maytag and Whirlpool Commercial Laundry. Maytag has a line of coin/card-operated equipment called Commercial Laundry Energy Advantage, which offers the customer a choice of top-load washers, multi-load soft-mount coin washers, front-load washers, and single- and stack-dryers. According to Maytag, its most efficient, best-cleaning top loaded washer is the Energy Advantage Top Load Washer, which can reduce water usage by 2 to 5 percent compared to Maytag’s top-load washers manufactured before 2005. The company also says these models exceed Department of Energy standards. In another example, Whirlpool’s Commercial Laundry Top-Load Washer meets Department of Energy standards. The laundry can be done in less time, and a thermistor on the water valve regulates water temperature to help lower utility costs. Users also have the option of a small-load setting. Using less waterWhile top-load washers are designed today to be more green, apartment owners are advised that front-load washers use less water than the more traditional top-load machines. Among front-load washers, Speed Queen offers its EcoWatersaver model, which reduces water consumption by 13.5 percent, from 14.8 gallons to just 12.8 gallons per cycle, compared to prior models. The product is Energy Star-qualified and has CEE Tier 3 status for water conservation, says the company. “The new system enables residents to select premium vend options for their laundry loans, which enhances revenue for owners,” says ALS’s Casey. Among Maytag’s offerings of front-load machines, its Commercial Energy Advantage High Efficiency Washers (pictured opposite page) are designed to cut utility costs by up to 60 percent “without compromising cleaning performance,” according to Maytag. The unit is designed to help on-premise locations “save as much as possible on laundry utility costs.” This model is also the first commercial laundry single-load washer to be Energy Star- and CEE Tier III-qualified, meaning that owners and operators can save even more energy, and in select states, receive utility rebates, says Maytag. For energy-efficient dryers, Maytag says its next generation, Commercial Laundry TurboVent Technology, offers single and stacked dryers equipped with 100 feet of venting capability to provide maximum performance and shorter drying times. The matching dryers to Whirlpool’s Commercial Laundry Front-Loading Washer, which is Energy Star- and CEE Tier II-qualified, have a blower system that increases air velocity, energy efficiency and heating element life. The dryers allow four-way venting up to 100 feet with three elbows, hood and vent, to provide shorter drying times. Looking ahead,” says Maytag/Whirlpool’s Karn, “energy- and water-efficiency remain [top priorities] of the laundry industry.” To comment, email keat.foong@nielsen.com