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Energy Savings -- Know What to Ask

In response to energy shortages and the rising cost of electricity, laundry managers know how important it is to explore new products and technologies that can reduce day-to-day operating costs in their facilities. But while claims of 30, 40 or even 50 percent savings may grab your attention, it is important to know how to correctly evaluate energy saving products.

It is also important to know how to use the resources designed to aid laundry managers in their decision making process.

How To Evaluate a Product
The first important step to evaluating products that claim fantastic or even realistic sounding savings is to ask concise questions and demand answers that are free from technical gibberish and nonsense phrases according to Steve Rosenstock, Energy Solutions Manager at Edison Electric Institute (EEI).

It’s important that you know what to ask when evaluating a product. Important facts to take into consideration are addressed in the following questions:

  • How does this product work to save energy?
  • Have the energy savings been proven in independent lab or field tests?
  • Will this technology void the warranty of the equipment it is connected to and/or controlling?
  • Is the product listed by an accredited testing agency such as Underwriters Laboratories, ETL Testing Labs, or
    the Canadian Standards Association and passed applicable tests of the American National Standards Institute?
  • Has any company ever filed a successful claim against the product when it did not produce the energy savings
    advertised?
  • Are there any facilities where this technology has been used for over two or three years?  

Read the Fine Print
A second important evaluation guideline is to fully explore the fine print for energy savings that provide insurance protection. "Buyers are made to feel that they are somehow protected if something goes wrong or especially if the product does not save the energy that the vendor claims it will save," says Rosenstock. But beware of fine print that requires prohibitive documentation in order to enforce the insurance protection.

Variations in the fine print include:

  • The timeframe in which a claim can be made.
  • Requirements to provide all utility bills and service invoices for a number of years before the energy saving product was installed, in addition to utility bills and service invoices during the product’s warranty period.
  • Requirements to produce specific data on all other energy consuming equipment in the facility.
  • Additionally, it may be necessary to submit a log of local daily temperatures and any space alterations made during the warranty period.

Investigate Rebates
A third point of investigation is to fully research savings based on rebate programs offered by a specific utility company or state or national agency. "Every electric company has a website - a quick way for buyers to find out exactly what is being offered, if anything," notes Rosenstock. "Many sites also include simple advice to purchasing energy efficient equipment."

While time may be of the essence in incorporating energy saving products in your facility, it is also imperative to take time to ask the right questions, research energy savings claims, and talk with peers and experts so that results have a better chance of meeting your expectations. "There are always new technologies coming out and new ways of doing things," concludes Rosenstock. "If a product sounds interesting, don't be afraid to ask crucial questions before considering a purchase. It is your money and you have every right to ask."

Resource Guide
State and Utility Energy Incentive Guide
Located on the FacilitiesNet website (www.facilitiesnet.com), this guide lists programs, incentives and services for all 50 states and the District of Columbia, along with contact information and the website address for that state's government energy office. From the home page, click on the Energy Research Center link in the left column and then choose the Energy Incentives Guide link located in the second paragraph. The direct address is http://www.facilitiesnet.com/energyresearchcenter/energyincentives.shtml.

Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
A news release from April 18, 2002 warns Internet marketers about making exaggerated energy saving claims and suggests that buyers be wary of such claims. The article can be found by visiting the FTC's website (www.ftc.gov), clicking on the News Releases link, choosing News Releases-Past, April, and then scrolling down to April 18. The direct link is http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2002/04/energysurf2002.htm. The FTC also maintains an Energy & Environment page with tips on energy information. The link is located in the article but the direct connection is
http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/edcams/eande/index.html.

Uniform & Textile Service Association (UTSA)
UTSA maintains an Energy Issues page. Log onto the site (www.utsa.com), follow the Services link to the Plant Operations link and then choose Energy Issues, which can also be reached by following http://www.utsa.com/services/plant_ops.php?nav=8&sub_nav=86.

Your Local Utility Company
The website address for most utility companies is simply the name of the company itself. For example: Sierra Pacific Power Company can be found at http://www.sierrapacific.com

Quick Rinse - News From Around The World

Charged For A Fire That Killed 2 Firefighters

CHICAGO, Ill. — The owner of an abandoned laundry in which two firefighters died during a fatal fire was charged with criminal contempt because it was alleged that he ignored a court order to secure the laundry building and repair the roof which collapsed during the fire. In addition to the death of two firefighters, 15 other firefighters were injured when the roof collapsed.