Commercial Clothes Washers
Commercial clothes washers are defined as soft-mount, front-loading or soft-mount, top-loading clothes washers that:
- have a clothes container compartment that:
- for horizontal-axis clothes washers is not more than 3.5 cubic feet; and
- for vertical-axis clothes washers is not more than 4.0 cubic feet; and
- are designed for use in applications in which the occupants of more than one household will be using the clothes washer, such as multifamily housing common areas and coin laundries, or other commercial applications.
Commercial clothes washers are similar in design and operation to residential clothes washers. However, they often have coin slots, card readers, or other devices to accept payment for each wash cycle.
Front-loading, or horizontal-axis, clothes washers are typically, but not always, more efficient in terms of energy and water usage than top-loading, or vertical-axis, clothes washers.
Current Rulemaking Activities: The Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA), as amended, requires the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to conduct two rulemaking cycles to determine whether to amend the energy conservation standards for commercial clothes washers. DOE completed the first rulemaking when it issued a final rule to amend the standards for commercial clothes washers on December 18, 2009. The standards established in this final rule will be applicable starting January 8, 2013.
In this final rule, DOE adopted amended energy conservation standards for top-loading commercial clothes washers that specify a modified energy factor of 1.60 and a water factor of 8.5 for all models manufactured for sale in the United States, or imported to the United States, on or after January 8, 2013. For front-loading commercial clothes washers, DOE adopted standards that specify a modified energy factor of 2.00 and a water factor of 5.5.
EPCA requires that DOE complete the second rulemaking by January 1, 2015. As a part of this rulemaking process, on August 3, 2012 DOE issued a framework document, which describes the procedural and analytical approaches the DOE anticipates using to evaluate amending the energy conservation standards for commercial clothes washers. Compliance with any amended standards would be required three years after the date of publication of the final standards.
Further details about these appliance standards can be found on the DOE commercial clothes washers website.
Modified energy factor (MEF) measures the energy use of the clothes washer and the remaining moisture content left in the clothes leaving the washer, which is related to dryer energy use. The water consumption of clothes washers is also regulated with a water factor, defined in the test procedure as gallons per cycle per cubic foot.
Commercial Clothes Washers product classes are:
- Top-Loading: 1.60 MEF, 8.5 WF
- Front-Loading: 2.00 MEF, 5.5 WF
Under contract to DOE, LBNL's Energy Efficiency Standards (EES) group conducted analyses for the 2010 final rule, including:
- Markups from manufacturer price to consumer price (for equipment)
- Energy and water use
- Energy prices
- Life-cycle cost and payback period analysis
- Shipments analysis
- National impact analysis (national energy savings and net present value).
Efficiency Standards History: EPACT 2005 established minimum energy and water efficiency standards for commercial clothes washers. The standards set in EPACT are the same as those for residential clothes washers. The minimum allowable modified energy factor (MEF) is 1.26 and the maximum allowable water factor is 9.5. The standards apply to commercial clothes washers manufactured after January 1, 2007.EPACT 2005 also required DOE to conduct a rulemaking by January 1, 2010 to determine whether an amendment to these standards was warranted.
DOE’s previous rulemaking that covered residential cooking products and commercial clothes washers originally had also included residential dehumidifiers and dishwashers. However, the latter two products were removed from the analysis because they became subject to standards through the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA 2007) passed by Congress in December, 2007.
The Department of Energy (DOE) posted a Framework Document on its website describing its plan for the analysis of the four appliance products, and published a Federal Register notice of the document's availability on March 27, 2006. DOE held a public meeting on April 27, 2006, to discuss and receive comments on the Framework Document and on issues related to establishing standards for these products.