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Conservation In The Laundry

Everywhere, rising gas prices and water shortages are forcing companies to look for ways to conserve energy and keep budgets inline. With limited resources available, equipment – from cars to toilets -- is being re-tooled for energy efficiency. For laundry managers interested in realizing financial savings, opportunities exist to improve productivity and utility efficiencies. General Maintenance for Improved Efficiency Often, the benefits of preventative maintenance are overlooked. By creating a maintenance schedule and sticking with it, you increase your department’s efficiency and reduce labor and energy costs.

On the dryer maintenance schedule, include steps to ensure your equipment has unrestricted airflow. While you may clean the dryer lint screen several times daily, it is equally important to inspect the exhaust duct monthly. A restricted exhaust duct reduces airflow, adding time to your drying cycle.

With gas dryers, another common hindrance to the amount of time it takes to dry a load is not having sufficient make-up air. Make-up air is the air required by gas burners to burn efficiently. By not having enough, you use more gas with less heat, which costs more and extends your drying time.

As for your washers, every 200 hours grease the bearings and seals using manufacturer recommended grease. And every three months, check the belt condition, clean water inlet screens, and inspect anchor bolts.

For additional general maintenance tips, ask your vendor for a preventative maintenance checklist.

Changing what you Know about Laundry
Having worked in the laundry industry for 16 years, I have heard many different myths. For example, the higher the extraction speed the lower the drying time. The truth is that around 275 to 300 G’s, water removal begins to flat line.

Water temperature is another misnomer. The common belief is that the hotter the water [150 - 160 degrees], the cleaner the linens. In reality, the temperature[s] used in a laundry formula are determined primarily by the type of linen and soil being washed, and also by the chemicals used. Washing with extremely hot water with today's fabrics and chemistry, may be an unnecessary waste of energy. Check with your chemical supply representative to determine what temperature is necessary for maximum cleaning results in your specific application.

Investigating Ozone
With an increase in demand for energy efficient products, companies are racing to develop new advancements that are not only environmentally friendly, but are cost-effective and save money.

One emerging trend within the laundry industry is the use of ozone. According to manufacturers of ozone technologies, there are a couple of different reasons why it’s gaining interest. First its promoted cleaning abilities. Ozone carries an electrical charge to it that works with laundry chemicals to dissolve dirt and soil on contact. Studies have shown that on average, ozone claims to be more effective at killing germs and bacteria than traditional chlorine bleach.

Second, by using ozone, studies claim it can reduce your water, sewer and energy usage. Hot water breaks down ozone before it can clean soiled fabric therefore ozone uses little or no hot water. In theory, this need for lower water temperatures may save you much as 80 percent in heating costs annually. Additionally, many ozone wash cycles are able to eliminate a rinse, thereby reducing water and sewer costs.

New “Solutions”
Today, many manufacturers of cleaning and laundry solutions have begun developing cleaning solutions designed specifically for Ozone applications. These detergents have been designed to optimize performance in Ozone and low temperature laundry operations. Combined with Ozone technology, manufacturers of these products claim that they can provide better results than standard detergents.

Besides Ozone based-chemicals, there are other solutions being created to keep utility costs manageable.

Another solution designed for its ability to reduce energy costs are enzyme-based detergents. Some of these enzyme-based solutions have been developed to potentially eliminate the need for detergent, bleach, softener and water conditioner.

According to a cleaning product developer/marketer, depending upon usage and installation type, enzyme-based solutions can reduce your wash cycle time as much as 30 percent, reduce your water costs by as much as 18 percent and reduce your energy costs by as much as 25 percent.

By taking steps to implement a preventative maintenance schedule and keeping abreast of emerging technologies, on premise laundry managers have opportunities to save their organizations money and reduce their utility consumption.

Quick Rinse - News From Around The World

Mac-Gray Corporation’s Lighten The Load™ Initiative

WALTHAM, Mass. — Mac-Gray Corporation, a provider of laundry facilities management services to multi-unit housing locations announced that it received the Foundation’s first annual For People and Planet award in the education category. Since Mac-Gray launched its Lighten the Load(TM) initiative in 2008 with, they have partnered with 29 academic institutions to offset more than 40 million pounds of carbon.

“This award highlights Mac-Gray’s commitment to environmental sustainability. Our Lighten the Load™ initiative is helping to reduce the carbon footprints of college and university laundry programs, while educating students on the benefits of being ‘green’ in the laundry room,” said Stewart G. MacDonald, Mac-Gray’s chief executive officer.