Coin Operated Clothes Washers (2012)

Published: March 24, 2012

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  • Our analyses suggest that there are roughly 480,000 coin-operated washers in California spread across commercial laundromats and common wash rooms in multifamily buildings. The prevalence of top-loaders among laundromats and multifamily buildings is 34 and 74 percent, respectively.
  • With new federal efficiency standards going into effect in 2013, water demand associated with coin-operated washers will decline over time. Market transformation through financial incentives can accelerate this process. If the prevalence of top-loaders is brought down to 20 percent we estimate that future water demand associated with this end use could be lowered by 28,000 acre-feet per year.
  • Given current avoided cost of water, and likely savings from retrofit of old top-loaders with high-efficiency front loaders, utilities can cost-effectively offer large financial incentives to promote water use efficiency in this sector. Energy savings, while not evaluated here, are also expected to be significant, making joint initiatives between water and energy suppliers an attractive option.
  • The finding of cost-effective savings suggests that coin-op washer retrofits should be considered a best management practice, and water utilities following the Flex Track or GPCD Compliance Approach should consider adding such a program to their existing portfolio if this portfolio appears inadequate for meeting future targets.
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