CHICAGO — While dry cleaners can’t control many of their expenses, energy costs are something that can be dealt with by planning and adding new, more efficient equipment when possible.
In Part 1 of this series, we explored the benefits of high-efficiency boilers, solar panels and other equipment in the plant. Today, we’ll examine taking energy savings on the road.
Start Your Engines
Both Joe Ziccarelli, president of Owl Cleaners in the Pittsburgh area, and Robert Strong, president of Country Club Cleaners and Brightleaf Cleaners in Alameda County, California, have added electric vehicles to their fleets.
“We have four Tesla Model 3 for our managers to drive,” Strong says. “They plug into the charging stations right here where we’re producing electricity from solar panels. So, that’s another huge savings for gasoline, because those four vehicles are not burning any fuel at all. No gasoline. No petroleum.”
Charging the vehicles from the company’s solar panels also gave Strong a price break on his overall electricity bill.
“In California, if you own an electric-powered vehicle, and you are solar-powered, the electricity you do use from the provider is at a lower rate,” he says. “If you put in solar and you drive an electric vehicle, they’ll actually lower the electricity that you do use from the grid.”
Ziccarelli’s electric vehicle has been put on a route.
“About 14 months ago, we purchased a Ford electric van for a delivery vehicle, and it’s been pretty good,” he says, although he does have a caveat. “My hesitation is that the range is a little iffy. The maximum range they’re showing is maybe 150 miles per change, but the real range is a lot less than that, especially if it’s cold.”
While the range issue is something for him to consider, the van has paid off in other ways for Ziccarelli.
“It’s simple and efficient from the perspective of not having to stop at the gas station to fill it up or having to get oil changes,” he says. “All we do is plug it in overnight and in the morning we’re good to go. The drivers like it, and it’s a great savings from an economic and user point of view. We’re really trying to utilize the marketing opportunity of going for an all-electric van, along with the ancillary benefits of no oil changes and less downtime filling up.”
While the vehicle charges off Ziccarelli’s electricity at the plant, he says the costs are negligible.
“Instead of paying for the gas, we just charge it up overnight,” he says. “That charge is also part of our electric and, as a commercial customer, you’re getting pretty good rates compared to charging at home. It’s almost a drop in the bucket. It wasn’t even a perceptible change in our overall electric use because it was such a small amount.”
Come back Thursday for the conclusion of this series, where we’ll weigh the short-term and long-term impact of energy-saving initiatives. For Part 1 of this series, click HERE.
Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Dave Davis at [email protected].