Commercial clothes washers (CCWs) are defined in EPAct 2005 as soft-mount, front-loading or soft-mount, top-loading washers, and have a clothes container compartment that is not more than 3.5 cubic feet for horizontal-axis clothes washers and not more than 4.0 cubic feet for vertical-axis clothes washers. EPAct 2005 also defines CCWs as products designed for applications in which the occupants of more than one household will be using the clothes washer, such as multi-family housing common areas, coin laundries, or other commercial applications.
Standards for commercial soft-mount clothes washers, previously set by EPAct 2005, were amended in January 2010. The new standards set a 1.60 modified energy factor (MEF) / 8.5 water factor (WF) for top-loading washers and 2.00 MEF / 5.5 WF for front-loading washers. Modified Energy Factor (MEF) measures the amount of laundry that can be washed with a kilowatt hour of electricity. Higher MEFs are better. Water Factor (WF) measures how much water is needed to wash a cubic foot of laundry. Lower WFs are better. These amended standards went into effect in January, 2013.
In December 2014, DOE issued a final rule amending the standards to 1.35 MEF/8.8 WF for top-loading washers and to 2.0 MEF/4.1 WF for front-loading washers. DOE estimates that the standards will save 0.07 quads of energy and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 4.1 million metric tons on purchases over a 30-year period (2018-2047). The compliance date is January 2018.
There are 2 to 3 million commercial washers in the United States, which are replaced at a rate of about 10% per year. The vast majority of new commercial washer sales are top-loading (~80%), which are generally less-efficient than front-loaders. The energy efficiency metric, MEF, takes into account water heater energy, maching energy, and drying energy. The drying energy is based on the remaining moisture content (RMC) of the clothes. Potential technology options for achieving this standard could include adaptive control systems, automatic fill controls, increased motor efficiency, spray rinsing, and improved remaining water extraction.