As students head to wash their inaugural laundry loads this academic year, they will find brand-new high-efficiency Energy Star washing machines and dryers welcoming their dirty clothing.
Installed this summer, the machines, located in every on-campus residence, are part of a university-wide effort to reduce the amount of water the university consumes and the school’s carbon footprint by at least 50 percent by 2020, according to Karen Frank, vice president for facilities and student housing. Since 2006, the school’s new policies have reduced carbon emissions by 20 percent.
Frank said she expects the Energy Star equipment to save over four million gallons of water this year, as well as a significant amount of electricity. Since the university replaces all its laundry facilities on a cycle to avoid widespread equipment failure, “It only made sense to replace [the old facilities] with more efficient equipment,” Frank said.
However, some students have reported problems with the machines. According to Remy Wainfeld (COL ’12), one student washed a load of clothes using half the normal amount of regular, non-high efficiency detergent but was still left with sudsy clothes after one cycle. “Because these front load washers use less water, less detergent must be used,” Frank explained. “The manufacturer recommends using high efficiency (HE) detergent or alternatively using only one-fourth the amount of regular detergent used in the old washers.”
Instructions about how to use the machines are posted in every laundry facility, according to Frank. Magdaly Vargas (COL ’14) said she finds the instructions easy to follow, adding she is happy to see a push toward a greener Hilltop. She has trouble tracking down the recommended high efficiency detergent in local stores, however, saying she wished the product would be made more available to students on campus. While students received a sample packet of high efficiency detergent at check-in, Vargas said the supply is quickly depleted.
High efficiency detergent also costs more than its traditional counterpart, a concern for college students who must also pay to use the university’s facilities. At CVS, a 50-ounce container of Tide Free and Gentle costs $8.99 plus tax, whereas the brand’s high efficiency product costs $9.39. Wainfeld said he thinks the price difference will not adversely affect students, as a container of high efficiency detergent cleans more loads than a container of regular detergent.