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Wiser Washing: Conservation in the Laundry (Conclusion)

Store lighting, windows, general maintenance can make a difference

CHICAGO — Conducting business in a service industry that collectively uses an untold number of gallons of water a year, plus the electricity and gas needed to power and operate its machinery, the concept of conservation is something every self-service laundry owner should keep in mind.

You want to supply enough water and energy to satisfy your customers’ laundry needs — Kevin Hietpas, director of sales for equipment manufacturer Dexter Laundry, once described vended laundries as a “utility reseller” — but exceeding that level of resources would be wasteful and costly.

The specter of ever-rising utility costs should be enough to send any self-service laundry owner in search of strategies to help them better manage their store’s water, natural gas and electricity usage.

In Part 1, we looked at energy-efficient equipment design, and financial incentives sometimes available from local utilities and other organizations for purchasing such equipment.

Let’s continue with lighting:

LOOK ON THE BRIGHT SIDE

It might not seem like much but you could lower your utilities usage by upgrading your store lighting. While LED lighting systems are more expensive up front, the bulbs last much longer than incandescents.

DTE Energy, Detroit, offers some lighting tips to save energy in your small business:

Use CFL Bulbs — They cost about 75% less to operate, and last about 10 times longer.

Switch to LED Bulbs — ENERGY STAR®-certified LED bulbs require less energy than incandescent bulbs and generate considerably less heat, potentially reducing cooling needs.

Install T8 or T5 Fluorescent Lighting — Replacing the old fluorescent and incandescent lighting can not only save energy, it can improve light quality and reduce heat gain.

Replace Old Open/Closed and Exit Signs with LED Lighting — LED signs require less maintenance, and each sign can save about $10 per sign in electricity.

And Efficiency Vermont, that state’s energy efficiency utility, offers these LED lighting tips to save energy in your small business:

  • Switch frequently used lights first, as the biggest return on LEDs comes from lighting that’s always (or frequently) on.
  • Consider the benefits of better lighting beyond saving energy. Replacing dim, yellow or flickering lights with high-quality LEDs can boost employee productivity, customer comfort and store appeal.
  • Choose your color and ambiance for directional and dimming applications.
  • Match the light to the task: overhead fixtures, task lighting, exterior lots.
  • Add lighting controls and sensors, because they can save you money by automatically turning off lights when they’re not needed (be sure to balance this with your security needs).
  • Upgrade tube fluorescents to high-performance T8 fluorescents or convert existing fixtures to accept linear LEDs.
  • Make use of natural light. If it makes sense for your budget and space, add skylights and daylighting controls that adjust interior light levels based on available daylight.

WINDOW TO THE WORLD

Large plate-glass windows are a standard feature in many self-service laundries today. And when the sun penetrates a store’s windows, the temperature inside rises and so do the utility bills. But there are opportunities to conserve that energy.

One option is installing windows with low-emissivity, or low-E, glass. Low-E glass can filter 40-70% of the heat that is normally transmitted through standard window glass, reflecting heat back to its source. Glazed with a thin metallic coating, low-E glass filters out infrared light while allowing the full amount of visible light to pass through. This reduction in solar heat decreases the need for air conditioning, as well as dependence on artificial lighting.

Another option is to install window film. Solar control window films applied to existing glass in windows and doors are an effective method to reduce peak demand during hot months and conserve energy, according to information shared by many utilities.

BACK TO BASICS

Finally, by attending to some basic things around your store, you can conserve resources and avoid unnecessarily spending more on energy than you must:

  • Always make sure your dryers’ lint filters are cleaned regularly. If lint is allowed to collect, this lowers dryer efficiency and increases fire risk.
  • Encourage customers to avoid overfilling washers and dryers, which lowers their efficiency.
  • Keep doors and windows air-tight by utilizing weather stripping and caulk.
  • Check for and repair leaks in washer connections, washer drains, restrooms, etc.
  • Programmable thermostats keep store temperature at a comfortable level.

These are but a few strategies for conserving your laundry’s resources and thus keeping utilities costs in check. After you’ve taken stock of your store’s utilities usage, it may be time to take action to manage your costs and brighten your bottom line.

Miss Part 1? You can read it HERE.