On-campus washing machines, dryers can go green to cut costs
Machine washers and dryers on the Rutgers University campuses are wasteful in terms of energy and water consumption. There is an eco-friendly manner to approach this problem, which can ultimately cut down on University costs. Using cold water instead of warm and hot water and utilizing drying racks instead of machine drying will not only help the environment, but it will save money too. Currently, the University has close to 1,000 energy star washers and dryers that promote an efficient method to wash and dry clothes. However, the implementation of drying racks in dorm and laundry rooms as well as altering the price of hot and cold water use within the University laundry rooms will be essential to reducing the University’s expenditure on water, natural gas and electricity, while at the same time, promoting a healthier environment.
The current cost for laundry at Rutgers is $1.25 per wash load and $1.25 per dry load. For the washing machines, there are six different settings that vary on the type of fabric being washed. For the dryers, there are three different settings, which also vary on the type of fabric. Before each wash, the student must select one of these settings — currently there is currently no default setting. The time for a “colors” wash is 35 minutes and the time for a “colors and whites” load to dry is 60 minutes.
The majority of energy spent in all washing machines goes towards simply heating the water. Although hot water is important to sanitize clothes in order to eliminate certain illnesses and kill off bacteria, it is not essential for every wash load. I propose that for students that want to wash their clothes with cold water, they can continue to pay $1.25 per load. However, for the students that want to use warm/hot water for their loads, they can be charged $2.50 per load. By implementing this change in price for the use of warm/hot water, I predict that more students will choose to pay for using cold water and only use warm/hot water when it is really needed. Simply washing the load with cold water can decrease the energy consumption up to 90 percent.
The current drying time per load is an excessive amount of time and a waste of energy and money. I propose a dry time of eight minutes, at a cost of $0.25. This would make the student check their clothes every eight minutes so they would only continue to dry as long as necessary.
In addition, I propose the addition of drying racks in laundry rooms and residence halls/apartments, to give students the option of air-drying instead of machine drying. If each dryer on campus ran for one hour per day, 522,315 kWh would be spent each year. At a cost of $0.10 per kWh, that translates to $52,231.50 per year. These figures could be greatly decreased if drying racks were installed.
Small changes to the laundry system will add up to great amounts of conservation of energy throughout the five campuses at the University.
Vanessa Freire is a senior at the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences and is majoring in Biological Sciences.