This new study examines how laundry is managed in multifamily housing and the types of machines commonly used. The study also analyzes the potential savings impact of switching to more efficient laundry machines and the extent to which current utility programs address the opportunity. SAHF completed this study with generous support from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) as part of the Energy Efficiency for All (EEFA) initiative.
In the multifamily housing market, laundry equipment is often leased from a third-party vendor rather than owned by the property owner. Third-party vendors typically supply the properties with top-loading machines, which are significantly less energy and water efficient than front-loading machines. The leases are typically multi-year contracts, offering owners infrequent opportunities to negotiate for equipment that is more efficient.
“When owners are looking for retrofit opportunities, washing machines are normally ignored because they are leased from a third-party vendor,” noted Rebecca Schaaf, Senior Vice President for Energy at SAHF. She continued, “Yet, since the energy and water costs for the laundry facility are covered by the property owner, owners pay a price by leasing less efficient laundry equipment.”
By looking at the potential savings of upgrading from low efficiency top-loading machines to high efficiency front-loading machines, the study found that there are enough savings available to offset the higher upfront cost of the equipment. This finding considers the importance of both the property owner and the third-party vendor achieving cost savings with the upgrade. Yet a powerful nudge toward greater efficiency – utility rebates – frequently miss the mark because leased equipment is not usually eligible for rebate programs.
“The large amount of electricity, gas, and water savings from better laundry machines are hidden in plain sight. This new study offers a road-map for utilities to help building owners to install better, more efficient laundry machines, which will deliver savings that provides value to the entire utility system,” stated Philip Henderson, Senior Financial Policy Specialist at NRDC.