As you watch your hotel laundry equipment spin through load upon load of towels, linens and robes every day, it’s worth asking: Are these machines washing my property’s money down the drain? They may work well, but that doesn’t mean they’re energy efficient, which could be costing you more in labor, water, gas and electricity costs.
The good news is that there are a few ways you can find out for sure whether your hotel laundry equipment makes the grade for being green. Here are three steps you can take to either discover how energy efficient your hotel laundry machines are or to invest in proven energy efficiency technology first and ask questions later.
Look for the Bright Blue Energy Star
The easiest way to determine whether your hotel washing machines are energy efficient is to check for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star label. The voluntary certification program sets energy efficiency standards that products have to meet in order to obtain the blue star.
According to the EPA, commercial clothes washers that have earned the star are 37 percent more efficient than washers that aren’t qualified. Front and top loader washers must have a capacity of more than 1.6 cubic feet to earn the star, among other specifications. Energy Star doesn’t offer certification for commercial clothes dryers.
While residential use of Energy Star appliances has taken off, the EPA says the market share for commercial Energy Star units is at 32 percent, meaning there’s plenty of room for growth. The program offers a buying guide of partners who sell Energy Star qualified equipment.
Conduct a Professional Energy Audit
Companies, utilities and non-profit agencies around the country offer professional energy audit services for all kinds of commercial properties, including hotels and resorts. An audit will give you a comprehensive overview of the property’s energy usage, and you can typically assume that laundry services account for 15-20 percent of your energy costs. Auditors will also provide
recommendations for improving your energy efficiency without negatively impacting your operations – including investing in Energy Star appliances.
Your utility company, state or local government or regional hospitality trade group should be able to recommend a qualified vendor. Some audits may even qualify for incentives, subsidized financing or tax credits.
Install a Laundry Ozone System to Washing Machines and Compare Costs
This last step is more of a leap of faith than an assessment, and you’ll just have to trust the research that a laundry ozone system will save time, water, electricity and natural gas as well as reduce chemicals and wastewater.
Ozone systems work by injecting ozone gas directly into washers, where the gas dissolves in cold water, loosens fibers and releases stains. The loosened fibers dry faster, and overall washer and dryer times are reduced by an estimated 30 percent. Ozone equipment can be added to existing machines, eliminating the need for hot water and cutting the required rinse cycles from two to one.
Hospitality experts estimate that the cost of installing a laundry ozone system pays for itself in about a year and a half. Once your ozone system has been up and running for at least a month, compare your water and energy costs to see the difference.
Now that you’ve answered some key questions or taken some important steps toward increased energy efficiency for your hotel laundry equipment, you can stop wondering and start saving. Or you can use the data you’ve collected to consider alternatives to on-premise laundry, such as an eco-friendly hotel laundry vendor. Whatever you decide, asking the right questions is a great first step.