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More Efficient Clothes Washers Benefit Businesses and Conserve Resources

Ben Chou

Posted June 6, 2014 in Curbing Pollution, Living Sustainably, Solving Global Warming

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This post was written in conjunction with Kaylee Weatherly and Brianna Pagan of the Long Beach Water Department and is also posted on LaundryDealer.com.

Record-breaking drought conditions in California and ongoing concerns over increasingly scarce water supplies have made headlines across the U.S. Every community in California is now facing drought, leading to water restrictions in many areas of the state. In addition, Governor Jerry Brown repeatedly has called on every Californian to do whatever they can to conserve water.   

In the urban sector, more efficient clothes washers can help to drastically reduce household water use. They also provide the added benefit of reducing the amount of energy it takes to agitate clothes to remove dirt and stains, spin clothes to remove excess moisture, and to heat water for use in some cleaning cycles.

Energy and water utilities have long recognized the water and energy savings that are achievable with efficient clothes washers. Many encourage customers to replace their older, inefficient clothes washers by offering rebates on the purchase of new, higher-efficiency models. While clothes washer rebate programs for residential customers are commonly found throughout the state, incentive programs for commercial customers, such as laundromats and multi-family buildings, are not nearly as widespread. While there are fewer commercial clothes washers in use, they are used far more frequently than residential clothes washers so the potential water and energy savings are much greater.

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  • Installation of eight new high-efficiency clothes washers in a laundromat (Courtesy of LBWD)

Recently, the Long Beach Water Department (LBWD), in partnership with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, began offering laundromat and multi-family customers up to a $500 rebate for each inefficient coin/card-operated washing machine replaced with a single-load ENERGY STAR-rated model. The ultimate goal of the program is to eliminate at least 300 inefficient washers from laundromats and multi-family buildings by exchanging them for new and innovative high-efficiency clothes washers.

This program is a prime example of how saving water can save customers money while also helping to make community water supplies more secure and resilient. An ENERGY STAR commercial clothes washer uses about 14 gallons of water per load while an older, less-efficient model uses from 25 to over 40 gallons per load. Over its lifetime, an ENERGY STAR commercial clothes washer will use about 136,000 gallons of water while an older, less efficient washing machine will use more than 310,000 gallons of water over the same period. Each ENERGY STAR commercial clothes washer can save more than 170,000 gallons of water over its lifetime!

ENERGY STAR clothes washers also use considerably less energy. An ENERGY STAR commercial clothes washer saves up to 7,000 kWh over its lifetime, which reduces emissions of over 11,000 pounds of carbon dioxide.

As an added bonus, the new machines are basically FREE when the combined lifetime savings across all utilities are considered. A laundromat owner will have a combined lifetime utility savings of $1,400 if the wash-water is heated by natural gas over the seven-year product life. If a laundromat takes advantage of LBWD’s $500 rebate, the machine will pay for itself in just a few years. Similarly, a multi-family property owner can save approximately $1,000 by using a more-efficient clothes washer.

Not only do these devices conserve our precious natural resources, but they also help property and business owners save money on their water, energy, and sewer bills. Lower utility bills contribute to higher profitability and improve the bottom line for businesses.

While providing rebates on the purchase of more efficient clothes washers is one way to reduce water use, there are additional opportunities for energy and water utilities to work together to achieve even greater savings. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has been working to encourage utilities to collaborate on clothes washer incentive programs by either offering joint rebates to maximize energy and water savings or by streamlining existing rebate application processes to simplify the redemption process for customers. NRDC also is urging utilities to offer additional incentives for customers to recycle the old, inefficient clothes washers being replaced. Ensuring that these water- and energy-guzzling appliances are recycled instead of being resold on the used appliance market prevents them from being reused.     

Spurring greater use of higher-efficiency appliances, including clothes washers, will help Southern California communities achieve long-term water and energy reliability. That’s smart for all Californians.

For more information on LBWD’s Coin/Card Operated High-Efficiency Clothes Washer rebate, go to www.lbwater.org/rebates.

To read more about NRDC’s clothes washer initiative, please go to www.nrdc.org/water/clothes-washers.  

 


Energy, water, and cost savings calculated using http://www.epa.gov/cleanenergy/energy-resources/calculator.html#results

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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