Saving tips: Conserve your energy

Jan Raycroft reports

More so than ever energy is a precious and expensive resource so we must use every bit wisely. Jan Raycroft shares tips and advice from some of our industry specialists about the simple changes that can add up and make a difference to energy usage and costs.

It’s definitely time to think outside the electricity and gas meters box for all of our industry – the constant search for ultimate energy efficiency solutions is relentless across the board. And no more so than in small and medium-sized operations who might feel they have looked just about everywhere as they face what really could be a make-or-break year.

Organisations like the TSA (The Textile Services Association) represents both family businesses as well as the larger commercial laundries, and from member surveys is well aware some have already seen energy prices leap to as much as five times the bills they were receiving just three years ago.

They are expecting even higher charges in 2023, and that’s just not sustainable, which is another high-ranking agenda item. Assuming your business remains viable, let alone makes a profit, how can you ensure promises made to customers on sustainability targets are achieved? The TSA is one of the bodies pressing for more government action beyond the six months emergency price cap for businesses. The crisis is a ‘double whammy’ for many laundries and cleaners who had just started to recover from the pandemic downturn while still battling supply chain issues, especially those who serve the hospitality sector which is itself being hit by price increases on top of concerns over consumer confidence.

The uncertainty over just how much government support there will be, and when, let alone the cause and effect of international energy prices, is perplexing for even the field’s experts, including those who specialise in supporting our sector. For instance, Paul Dilley, director at Fox Energy, says: “A main task right now is trying to keep everyone’s heads above water. I know people have spent a lot of hours looking for the best deals and often felt frustrated, but it’s important to stay in touch with both consultants and suppliers as so much is changeable, including what you might be eligible for that can cut costs. “For instance, in what passes for normal times we’d usually be steering most people towards the longer term deals, but right now it will make sense for some to choose short term contracts, from three to 12 months.”

Dilley might like government to react clearly and speedily on energy, but doesn’t blame them, saying global problems have dealt them, like us, an impossible hand of cards. One thing’s for sure though. Unlike some of our sector, the government might change ‘the management’, but it’s at no risk from going out of business. Let’s move on to expert tips for a variety of operations, starting with in-house operations. Diversey, developers of hygiene, infection prevention, and cleaning solutions, recognise that many businesses running laundry operations in-house will be doing so because they want to retain ownership of the process and results. Improving sustainability by reducing energy and water consumption or switching products is often an important consideration too. A good place to start is to check that tasks are completed with the right processes, products, and equipment. This will help ensure optimum efficiency and reduce the need for repeat washing which avoids additional water heating and electrical equipment running costs let alone savings in time and product consumption. Another simple task is to maintain equipment correctly so that it is reliable and energy efficient. It is important to follow manufacturers’ guidelines for daily inspections and arrange servicing at the correct intervals. Daily tasks might include, for example, checking and cleaning a machine’s pumps and filters to remove blockages that cause inefficiency.

Washing machines used in hard water areas can be prone to limescale. This can accumulate and restrict the passage of water and impact on the equipment’s reliability and limit the efficiency of the heating element. More energy will be required to heat the same amount of water. In fact, each millimetre of scale inside the heating element will add around eight to 10 per cent on energy costs for a typical commercial machine. Limescale can also interfere with internal sensors that manage the temperature and the flow of water and cleaning products, leading to further inefficiencies and wastage. Regular descaling with a specialist product or switching to formulations that prevent limescale will help prevent this issue. Another way to reduce energy costs is to switch to products that are effective at lower temperatures. Washing at 40oC significantly reduces energy costs by up to a third compared to washing at 60oC or above. However, healthcare guidance does stipulate that thermal disinfection is the preferred choice for infected linen. Alternative low temperature formulations are available for laundry and will deliver payback from day one. Many can be swapped into existing processes without significant retraining or other changes.

Thus far these considerations have highlighted the energy-saving benefits of using the correct equipment, products, and processes. But optimised processes at lower temperatures can also save another valuable resource: water. The first saving is made by avoiding the need to wash items a second time. The second saving is by reducing the number of required rinses – the standard on many commercial machines is three rinse cycles. If we consider on average for each kilo of linen three to four litres of water is required to remove residual soiling and chemical from the fabric, removing a single rinse will save 33 per cent of the water being used and is achievable using specific product neutralisers. Time savings are also achieved by the removal of one or two rinse cycles. Product formulations are another sustainability consideration. Traditional laundry products have been developed over decades to deliver highly effective, economical, and consistent results. But laundry operators are increasingly seeking novel formulations with additional sustainability benefits.

This includes, for example, using ingredients from renewable resources. Switching to ultra concentrates from traditional liquid formulations can reduce the volume needed to support a laundry. This leads to smaller pack sizes or fewer deliveries, which reduces the number of transport movements and lower CO2 emissions, as well as minimising storage and handling burdens across the supply chain, all good sustainability benefits.

Modern packaging also uses fewer raw materials such as plastics and cardboard. Sustainability is further enhanced when these materials are made wholly or partially from recycled sources. Packaging is also designed to be easier to sort and recycle after use. All of this helps to promote a circular lifecycle for packaging which contributes to the sustainability of laundry products. Businesses running one or more commercial machines and dealing with higher volumes of laundry can often achieve significant sustainability benefits by tapping into the capabilities of the latest smart technologies and applications. These systems work in conjunction with washing machines and dosing equipment to help on-premises laundry operators reduce costs, minimise rewashes, and enhance results by providing an advanced set of remote real-time management and diagnostic tools over the internet. Operators can respond proactively to deal with issues before they impact on operations and modify settings to optimise water and energy consumption and the quality of results.

Many of the changes outlined above can be implemented quickly and easily with little or no additional upfront investment. When more significant change is identified it becomes much easier to justify an investment when energy prices rise because savings offset the costs much more quickly. Reputable suppliers can advise on the most energy-efficient combination of their products for specific applications. They will support their claims with proper documentation and may have tools and calculators to help assess savings. We know that much of this feature will be something of a checklist for those already deep into the dreaded numbers. But tips from a business which launched on a mission to be carbon neutral and champion sustainability always have merit.

And so we turn to OXWASH where they campaign to end the huge impact on the environment and offer five tips straight from the OXWASH lagoons on how to adopt an ‘energy-sober’ mindset.

Cold but gold

Most electricity used by washers goes into heating water. By using 30°C instead of 40°C you can not only save on the bills but also reduce carbon emissions by up to 35 per cent. This does not mean compromising on quality – OXWASH find that pre-spotting and using efficient biodegradable detergents helps to achieve
excellent results even at 20°C.

Ozone to the rescue

Ozone gas is a great alternative to high temperatures for disinfecting garments and eliminating odours.

Quick dries

Drying machines and irons are usually by far the biggest consumers of energy. By opting for shorter drying cycles, you can ensure no energy is wasted; starting with as little as five to 10 minutes and running another round only if the garments are still too wet for the iron.

Spotting energy leaks

If you go through your processing and office spaces during a full day, chances are you would probably spot a few items turned on that do not actually drive value. Do you have reminders to turn off the lights and plugs? Can you optimise your equipment’s working hours and transition to LED lighting?

Go green

In addition to reducing your energy consumption, consider switching to a green energy supplier. Investing in companies offering energy from low-impact renewable sources will contribute to reducing the environmental impact of your energy usage.

David Midgley, left, and Paul Hamilton of Regenex with linen which has ‘lived to see another day’

Re-use could be a game changer when it comes to saving money

By Paul Hamilton, technical director, Regenex

Cost concerns are at an all-time high among UK laundries and the concept of re-use, as a way of limiting spiralling outgoings, is coming to the fore. While some return on rejected linen can be achieved through selling it to recyclers for a modest fee, keeping every item for longer makes increasing financial sense.

Getting the best possible use out of each tablecloth, napkin, towel or bedsheet before replacement can be a very effective money saver, when it’s considered that top-up stock accounts for 10 per cent of a laundry’s turnover on average.

While laundry managers used to just bin anything that didn’t pass inspection tests, technology now allows for the majority of such material – as long as it’s not ripped or torn – to return to stock, following specialist processing, for many more washes to come.

This is a particularly attractive prospect when the rising cost of cottons and polycottons is taken into account, as well as ongoing disruptions to supply chains – meaning that availability of the right replacement linen, even at an inflated price, cannot be guaranteed. Crippling rises in fuel bills recently have intensified the need to look for ways to cut back and tackling careless habits with stock is an easy place to start. Thankfully, thriftiness with linen can really help a laundry to survive and thrive, at a time when this is crucial. The even-better news is that this benefit goes wider and deeper than money on current balance sheets.

After not using the earth’s resources to manufacture something at all, re-using that item is the second-best option for what to do with it. The benefit to the environment is clear, and this in turn feeds business ambitions. It is true to state that firms with robust sustainability policies will prosper in the years ahead whereas their less sustainable competitors are likely to falter. This is because banks, other lenders and investors – as well as potential commercial partners awarding contracts – are already favouring companies with a genuine desire to do the right thing by the planet, and an action plan to prove it.

At Regenex we advocate the simple re-use of linen as a way to save money – and we can help laundries achieve this, with our patented multi-bath cleaning process that successfully revives up to 80 per cent of condemned linen.

Savings add up with tips from the Guild of Cleaners & Launderers

In the past we became accustomed to a relatively steady increase in the cost of energy with numerous companies offering tempting deals on contracted price deals. However, this year has provided a reality check due to several companies failing because of the unexpected rise  in wholesale energy costs. The tempting contract deals evaporated as existing terms came to an end. Reducing our energy consumption then became paramount.

There are numerous small and inexpensive ways to achieve savings although this will not replace regular servicing by a competent person. Some savings depend on whether a central unit is used (one boiler that produces all the steam or one vacuum unit) or an integral unit (where each piece of equipment has its own built-in boiler, maybe feeding a second piece of equipment like a steam cabinet with integral boiler feeding a spotting table). Some energy savings may apply to both therefore they will be split into three groups: General (to apply to both), Central (specific) and Integral (specific).


  • Flexible steam hose covers not only reduce the risk of burns but reduce the amount of heat loss. They can be fitted to virtually all flexible steam pipes and are especially effective on all steam irons, as well as scissor presses where steam is supplied to the moving head. These covers will also reduce the risk of wet steam leaving water marks on garments. Also, reducing the boiler switch off pressure may also be an option to consider.
  • Check blow down and sight glass drain valves are not letting by (leaking). Check for weeping safety valves. Check switch-off pressures are not too high. If the heat to the drycleaning machine distillation is not automatically turned off when the still is empty until the next time that solvent is pumped to the still, turn off the still heating manually.
  • Higher electricity costs will undoubtedly raise water costs. If the drycleaning machine water passes to drain, try to collect and use for washing machines and/or warming cold parts of the building via cheap domestic radiators.
  • Have circulating pumps fitted with pressure or no flow switch off units. Check for compressed air leaks (compressed air is expensive). Try to run as many drycleaning consecutive loads as possible. Turn off equipment if it is not going to be used for around 30 minutes. Change any lighting that is not energy efficient to LED. This could save up to 90 per cent of the lighting bill.
  • Energy efficient lighting still uses energy. Check lighting in areas not being used is turned off. Check that security lighting is not excessive and operated correctly.
  • If you are still using a hot knife bagging machine instead of a hot wire, change it. There are a lot of second-hand models available at low cost (a hot knife type is often on all day. A hot wire type is only on for the few seconds it takes to seal the polythene).


  • Ensure all pipe work is correctly lagged with no exposed pipe and that the correct type and thickness of undamaged insulation is in place.
  • Check for steam leaks and that condensate tanks are not being over heated by excess steam from a faulty steam trap.
  • Try to arrange working practices so that the boiler has reduced operating time. Perhaps keep a load of work processed one day to press the next day when further work is being cleaned. Cleaning and pressing at the same time, not one or the other.
  • A vacuum unit consumes more energy when it is on but not actually being used. Fit a vacuum reducing valve to prevent high vacuum being produced when not in use.

Also fit easy to access lever operated quarter turn valves to all equipment so that they can be isolated if not in use for several hours or more. Shoulder height valves are quicker to access.


  • Look at working practices so equipment is not switched on until just before it is required. Arrange for as much work as possible to be done consecutively.
  • Turn off vacuum fans if not going to be used for 10 minutes or so (for example when unloading a machine or serving a customer).
  • Heavily scaled heating elements should be de-scaled although they may be cheaper to replace as they have already worked hard so have a limited working life remaining.




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