Question: From towels and wash cloths to blankets and sheets, in the hotel business, it seems like there is an endless stream of laundry filtering in over the course of one day. With the add-on laundry services we provide to guests, our energy bill can get pretty high. What can we do to change the way we wash our linens to lessen our energy bills?

Answer: Good question! Energy bills in the hotel industry are greatly impacted by laundry services, as it can take an enormous amount of water to get hotel linens clean – 15,000 gallons to be precise (based on 5,000 lbs/day for a 250 room hotel) according to Laundry Consulting. In fact, it takes an average of 3 gallons of water for each pound of dirty laundry, 70% of which has to be heated to up to 100 degrees or more. Yikes!

Thankfully, if you’re a hotel that hosts an on premises laundry (OPL), there are tons of savings to be had by investing in energy-efficient, ENERGY STAR-qualified commercial clothes washers. Here’s what you need to know!

Save on Water

Given the fact that water and wastewater costs are more than 50% of the total operating costs of the typical commercial laundry machine, as suggested by Alliance for Water Efficiency, it would seem as if water consumption – and conservation – is a logical place to start.

The first rule when it comes to reducing energy costs associated with washing machines is, when you can, wash with cold water. Needless to say, tough stains and grime may need an extra boost – if you can, use warm water instead of hot and then rinse in cold water. This will cut the amount of energy used by 50%.

If you’re already using cold water, it’s time to look at the type of unit you use. ENERGY STAR commercial clothes washers – both front loading and top-loading clothes washers – use 35%-50% less water than other machines on the market (and less detergent). According to the ENERGY STAR website, this is largely due to the fact that they do not possess an agitator in the middle of the tub. Unlike front-loading washers that rub clothes against an agitator in a full tub, they wash (or spin) clothes in a small amount of water instead. These machines also use a high-efficiency motor to spin the drum at a higher speed, extracting more water in order to reduce the demand on energy spent drying clothes in the next cycle.

Increase efficiency – increase savings

Evolving with the times, ENERGY STAR washers have come a long way. Approximately 68% more efficient than they were in 1990, they are, according to the NRCan website, at least 30% more efficient than Canada’s minimum energy-efficiency standard. Choosing an ENERGY STAR-qualified washer is the first step to making the most energy-efficient washer choice, but it shouldn’t be the last. It’s just as important to ask questions like: What is the EnerGuide rating of the unit? Does the machine come with a water-level control or a small-load basket? Does the machine allow you to control the water temperature by choosing between hot, warm or cold water cycles? Finding out the answer to these questions will help you ensure that you end up with the most energy-efficient ENERGY STAR-qualified machine on the market.

Don’t forget to…

One more thing! As we all know, staff members play an integral role in maintaining green practices (read more here)! That being said, it’s important to inform your staff about behaviour in the laundry area that can help reduce energy costs. For example, overloading machines can cause mechanical failure and reduce the effectiveness of the spin cycle, meaning you’ll probably have to run your linens through the washer more than once (on that note, if your clothes need to go through twice, try a pre-soak instead). When it comes to detergent, ENERGY STAR-qualified models should be paired with High Efficiency (HE) detergents that don’t create as many suds (too many suds can lead to soils not being completely rinsed out of the items and the unit). Also, a minimal amount of detergent should be used in order to avoid residue that can build up and cause mechanical failure.

According to the Office of Energy Efficiency, if your hotel operates a 10 washer facility where the water heater and clothes dryers are fueled by natural gas, water and energy savings can total $10,327! So, what are you waiting for? Clean up your laundry room with energy-efficient clothes washers and save on energy costs.

Questions or comments? Leave them below!

image credit: dextergirl