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What Energy Choice Means To The Laundry Industry

Question:
What does it mean that business owners, including those in the laundry industry now have “energy choice?”

Answer:
With the deregulation of the energy industry consumers and business people now have the ability to take control of their electricity and natural gas purchases.  As a result, many business owners are now able to choose their supplier and they are all competing for your business.

Proactively, they can manage the sky-high energy costs needed to operate a laundry business by selecting from the many rate plans and services offered by ESCO’s (Energy Service Companies). An example of this would be to have the choice to float with the market each month or to lock in a fixed price for a set period of time and protect themselves against rising future prices.  These options would not exist without “energy choice”.    

Question:
What is an ESCO and how is it different than a major utility company such as Con Edison in New York? 

Answer:
ESCO’s supply electricity and natural gas to end users. In New York, for instance, ESCO’s must be certified by the New York Public Utilities Commission.  In the past, ConEd provided the generation of the electricity at their power plants, the distribution of the power across their power lines and the sale of the power to you.  When buying from an ESCO, the ESCO uses your local utility’s current power line to supply your home or business the same way it occurs today, you are simply buying your supply from an alternative source to better manager your energy costs.  Your local utility still maintains the local poles and wires and responds to emergencies and outages as they always have.  

Question:
Why do utilities encourage competition?

Answer:
By law, utility companies do not make a profit on the sale of energy. Instead, they pass the price for the energy on to the business owners and the consumer dollar-for-dollar, with no profit mark up. Their profit comes from the delivery of the energy to your laundry business, and the service they provide.

Question:
Will making the switch to an ESCO change the reliability of my energy supply at my business?

Answer:
The short answer is no, but to quote the New York State Public Service Commission Use Your Power to Choose “Utilities are still responsible for delivering electricity and gas to your home or business using their existing wires and pipes and responding to electric or gas emergencies. The safety and reliability you’ve come to depend on won’t change.” A copy of this guide and other useful information about Energy Choice can be found at http://www.dps.state.ny.us

Question:
Will it cost my business to switch energy suppliers? Is it easy to do? What happens when I switch my building or company to a new ESCO?

Answer:
There are no costs to switch. It is easy to do and takes just a few minutes.  Once you select the rate plan that works best for you, the company you chose and your local utility coordinate everything else. You should begin receiving electricity and/or natural gas from your chosen company within 15 to 45 days depending on your billing cycle. You will not notice any change in your service.  You will still continue to get one monthly bill from your local utility service which will include your new ESCO charges.  The power and gas still comes through the very same power and gas lines that exist to your business today.     

Question:
What are “innovative pricing solutions” for my business? Exactly what does that mean for me financially? What options might I have if I switch to an ESCO? (re: fixed pricing, variable price, value-added services?)

Answer:
First, let me give you a sense for how important it is to take charge of your energy purchases. As a point of reference, Northeastern US residential electricity rates in 2006 fluctuated over 400%, ranging from $0.045 to $0.19 per unit consumed. Commercial rates fluctuated even more, over 700%, ranging from $0.053 - $0.20 per unit consumed.  To put it into perspective, if gasoline prices were to change at the same rate, you would see prices at the pump move from an average of $2.75 per gallon all the way to $11.58 per gallon for residential and $19.40  per gallon for business customers! It would be shocking for 20 gallons to cost $55 one day and $231 or $388 the next. 

Everyone’s actual experience can vary but with that much volatility in electricity rates, it is important that you take control of your energy costs. As a result of competition and energy choice, ESCO’s have created many new products and services to meet your needs. Fixed Rate Plans (not offered by your local utility companies) help you avoid surprises by locking in your rate for a set period of time depending on the length of contract you choose. Your cost per unit of energy stays the same each month, so you can better plan and control your energy costs.  Here at Accent Energy, we also realize that you’re busy and don’t have time to track energy prices so we created a monthly update newsletter call MarketMinder.  MarketMinder is a complimentary service offered exclusively to our customers to help you decide the best time to lock into a fixed rate plan with Accent or when to reset your fixed rate down.

Question:
I often hear the term, “renewable energy.” What is it and what are some examples of renewable energy sources? 

Answer:
Renewable energy is energy generated from sources that can be replenished very quickly like wind, solar, hydro, or biomass.

Question: What does it mean if a customer wants to choose “Green Power”? Is Green Power expensive? What are the benefits of “Going Green” as you advertise in some of your products?

Answer: 
Green Power is electricity generated from approved renewable generating facilities using wind turbines and solar panels, etc.  Buying power produced at these facilities can is friendlier to the environment than facilities using fossil fuels like coal, oil, and natural gas. Even though the fuel (wind, sun, water, etc.) may be free, there is still a substantial investment made to build the renewable energy generating facility.  Most consumers can buy Green Power for pennies a day more than traditional sources.      

Question: 
What can residents and business owners do to secure their energy future?

Answer:
For most of us, the cost of energy is a significant expense impacting many facets of our lives.  In addition, the energy choices we make impact the environment we live in.  First know that as a business owner who utilizes a lot of energy in the laundry business arena, you can take control of your energy future.  Take the time to understand the opportunities available to you both as a businessman and as an environmentalist.  Whether you’re interested in locking in volatile energy prices or buying environmentally friendly Green Power, seek out and work with ESCO’s that can help you establish what’s most important to you and offer the products and services to help achieve your energy objectives.    

Quick Rinse - News From Around The World

Commercial Laundry Cited by OSHA

ELM GROVE, W. Va. — Uwanta Linen Supply, a commercial laundry, was recently cited for 21 health and safety violations by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The laundry faces $62,400 in penalties for the violations. Eighteen of the the 21 violations are considered serious by OSHA. The serious violations include failing to properly guard floor holes and failing to provide hepatitis B vaccines to workers who are potentially exposed to blood borne pathogens.