Re: advice on laundry metering?
From: Deborah Behrens (
Date: Mon, 25 Aug 1997 17:52:22 -0500
> From: Joe Nolan <jnolan [at] Adobe.COM>
> We have a laundry in our recently finished CH (none in homes). The issue of
> whether & how to pay for usage is at hand. My own preference is to keep
> life simple & not meter (i.e. charge households equally via overall
> maintenace budget).
> Any advice from experience launderers out there?

Joe - 

We have donated home machines in our laundry room currently (2W/2D).  
We originally wired for 110/gas for the dryers, assuming that
that's what the community would buy (more efficient).  
Unfortunately the machines that we had donated in the interim were 
electric, so we had to go back after the fact and add 220 wiring.

Not everyone in our community uses the common machines -
those with families, or other high laundry usage already
had their own machines when they joined the community, and
prefer to use them.  We have laundry hookups available in
every home.  (One of many things that makes for easier resale)

We did choose to set up an honor system, signups on a list,
and either pay cash, or get billed extra with the monthly
homeowners fees.  But we're only charging 50 cents wash/
50 cents dry  - much cheaper than any laundromat.  
Since those who have their own machines have to pay their 
own water/electric/capital on their machines, IMO it seems very 
reasonable to charge.
I think we said those who donated the machines didn't have to pay.

There are those in our community who disagree that they should
have to pay (they think it should be included in the overall budget,
but they also don't like it when the homeowners fees rise 
- IMO they want something for nothing).  Some of them do abuse the 
honor system, by not signing in/paying when they do laundry, but fortunately, 
it's a fairly minor problem limited to a few (IMO less than honorable) people. 

Due to the CC&Rs in the area we live in , outside clothes-lines are forbidden,
to the distress of some.  Course we still have lots of dirt around because 
construction's only just finished and landscaping's not yet finished.
Clothes on a line would probably end up dirtier than they started.
We also don't really have room anywhere for a common clothes line.
But I'll admit, there are times when I wish we could have one - 
I've had my tent draped over the pingpong table and exercise equipment
in the common house basement drying out after a rainy day, and others
have had their camping gear draped all over things too.

Eventually when they wear out we'll probably go to coin op, 
since the upfront investment can be minimal.  Often, as long as
the company you're leasing from can be assured of a certain minimal
take for themselves on a per machine basis, then the community
gets the rest, or a percentage of the rest.  It depends on the
lease that you get.  And they do the maintenance.  Check around.
Make sure the community's share is enough to cover costs.  
The per load cost can be adjusted to anything that gets you above
the minimum take the lease company needs.
The laundromat front loaders are hard to get for small laundry
rooms - they don't like renting them out in ones and twos for some
reason.  But they're more efficient for utility usage.
(I'm not talking about the big blanket sized ones - they 
rarely get used so are not worth having on site).

We have had problems with overloading of machines - cramming into
one or two loads where they should have used two or three loads - 
this can wear the machines out quicker.  Some folks don't even 
know what/where the lint filter is, let alone that keeping it clean
makes for faster drying with less wear and tear on the equipment.

Especially if your hot water in Ithaca is heated with oil, and not everyone
in the community uses the common machines, I definitely would suggest
charging by the load.  Otherwise, a single office worker who only
does a load a week would get charged the same as a family with several
young kids who does a load or two a day.  Or a massage therapist who might
do a load a day.

I was thinking idly that some washers could be less expensive to
use if they were permanently set up with cold water only - charge
50 cents for the cold water wash, and 75 for the hot water? 

On the other hand, if you did a flat rate based on expected family 
usage, then maybe your machines would not be so likely to get overloaded.
They might do more loads than they expected, but smaller ones.

We have little forms people can fill out if they're not expecting to
be around when it's time to move their laundry, but they're rarely used.
They basically give instructions for the washer/dryer settings desired.
Usually people just pile other peoples clothes on the tops of the 
machines and let them handle them themselves when they return.
I personally wouldn't want to be responsible for using the wrong settings 
and ruining something of someone elses.  We do have one laundry basket
in the room for storage of unknown items.  People do leave their 
supplies of soap, etc, in the laundry room, generally with their names
on them.  Honor system that you use only your own supplies.

Hope this helps.  Good luck in Ithaca.

                      (0 0)
 |  Debbie Behrens                  debbeh [at] |
 |  Highline Crossing CoHousing          W (303)252-2215 |
 |   1611 W. Canal Ct Littleton CO 80120 Fx(303)252-2249 |
 |  Rocky Mountain Cohousing Assn        H (303)797-7779 |
 |     All opinions expressed are mine, and do not       |
 |         necessarily reflect the opinions of           |
 |        Highline Crossing or RMCA in general.          |

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