By Lee Consavage

Our company was contacted by the owner of a small laundromat to request assistance in reducing his utility costs. He was paying over $100,000 per year in utility bills, which included electricity, gas, water sewer. David Plante, a mechanical engineer with our company, did a very thorough energy analysis and determined that 85% of the laundromats utility costs are fixed, including water sewage usage, which accounted for almost 40% of the total utility costs. David Plante had determined that only 15% of the utility costs could be targeted for energy savings. This 15% is associated with gas usage for laundry side hot water and space heating. The air conditioning costs just accounted for 3% of the total utility costs.

Therefore, David I decided to look into a way to capture reuse the warm wastewater from the washers that just end up going directly into the sewer. We found a possible solution in the the AquaTex 720 laundry wastewater recovery system (http://www.h2oreuse.com).

I spoke with Randall Jones of Wastewater Resources, Inc.(WRI), about the AquaTex 720. Listed below are some of the comments made by Randall during our conversation:

1. The AquaTex units were developed for the Cruise ship industry about 20 years ago.

2. They have been adapted for use by smaller laundromats. California laundromats are their primary customer, including a new laundromat that will only be allowed to be built if it recycles 100% of its wastewater. An AquaTex unit was modified to meet that requirement.

3. WRI is currently installing AquaTex units at a large laundry facility in Worcester, MA, for a total cost of $1.7 Million, with a 9-month payback.

4. The cost for a new AquaTex 720 is $78,000. With the installation cost, the total turnkey cost is expected to be $95,000 to $100,000.

5. The AquaTex 720 requires a telephone connection so WRI can monitor the performance of the unit on a daily basis and advise the local installer to take action as necessary to correct any problems.

6. The installation includes a 1-year warranty and free daily monitoring of the unit (via a telephone connection) for 1-year. After the 1-year period, additional daily monitoring of the unit may be purchased for $211/month.

7. WRI will train a local installer to maintain the unit.

8. The unit is expected to have a 10-year life.

9. The unit disinfects water and controls color in the water using ozone UV technology. Controlling the color insures dye in the water is not transfer to another washer. The reclaimed water is completely free of particles contaminants.

10. Cost to operate unit (based on $0.11/kWh) is $0.15 per 1,000 gallons of water reclaimed.

11. The unit is expected to cut water usage by one-half.

12. Fifteen years ago WRI installed an AquaTex 320 at a laundromat in the Stowe, VT area. The unit did cut the water usage by the laundromat from 70,000 gallons of water per day to 35,000 gallons of water per day. The only problem was that the water district for the area only pumped 200,000 gallons of water per day for the town, 70,000 of which went to the laundromat. So when the laundromat cut its water usage, the laundromat also cut its payments to the water district. To compensate for the reduced income for the laundromat, the water district increased its rate for everyone in the town. So that made the laundromat unpopular with the town folk. Randall warned us that if the reduced water usage from the laundromat greatly reduced income to the water district, then we may experience the same problem.

The laundromat owner decided not to install this water reclamation system due to the negative publicity that may result from using “recycled” laundry water. He felt the number of customers he would lose would out way any energy savings realized. The laundromat owners conclusion made a lot of sense. I was strictly looking at energy savings. But he was looking at it as a businessman who astutely noted that his customers most likely would not take the time to learn that the recycled water would be just as clean as the original water. His customers would just head over to the laundromat across town that doesnt use recycled water. 

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