CHICAGO — Colder weather that began taking hold this month had to have managers thinking about their natural gas bills. But perhaps recognizing that the economic downturn is driving down energy demand, 75% of respondents to November’s Wire survey say they believe their natural gas bills will be comparable to (40%) or even lower than (35%) last year’s.
Only 5% say their natural gas costs are going up and they’ll pay more, and 10% say their costs are going up but they won’t “take the full hit” because their operations are more energy-efficient. The remaining 10% of respondents say they don’t know what to expect.
Nearly 58% of respondents say they’ve made their laundries more energy-efficient since last winter, compared to 42.9% who haven’t.
Those who boosted plant efficiency reported having replaced older equipment with newer, more efficient equipment, or having installed equipment specific to energy conservation, such as heat reclaimers or water reuse systems.
One respondent reports having switched to a low-temperature oxygen bleach, and also locking in natural gas prices for a longer period. Another insulated the laundry’s pipes.
Of those who believe natural gas bills will rise next year, 75% are expecting a hike up to 10%, 16.7% say it will be 11-20%, and 8.3% are forecasting a 21-30% increase. No respondents believe their bills will go up more than 30%.
Watching natural gas prices might be a priority for the 85.7% of respondents whose operations use gas-heated dryers. Nearly 10% use dryers of more than one type, and 4.8% use electric-heated dryers. No one who took the survey reports using steam-heated dryers.
Slightly more than 76% of respondents say their flatwork ironers are steam-heated. Gas heating is used by 4.8%, and another 4.8% have more than one type of ironer. No respondents report using electricity or thermal fluid to heat their ironers. Approximately 14% of respondents have no ironers.
Subscribers to American Laundry News’ Wire e-mails — distributed weekly — are invited to participate in an industry survey each month. The survey is conducted online via a partner website. Each survey is developed so it can be completed in 10 minutes or less. Readers are encouraged to participate, as a greater number of responses will help to better define operator opinions and industry trends.
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