The University of Richmond has updated its laundry facilities, making the switch from a pay-per-use system to a one-time fee with unlimited use of brand new machines.
Using a new system called eSuds, students can now go online to see which washers and dryers are available in each dorm or University Forest Apartment laundry room. The Web site shows which machines are occupied and how many minutes remain until the cycle is complete.
Busy students may choose to use the eSuds notification system, which can e-mail or text message their SpiderMail accounts when their laundry is finished.
Randy Moran, director of One Card Services and business development, said that eSuds was chosen for a variety of reasons, but one of the most important features was its ease of use. Other systems the school looked into required too much effort, and Moran did not think students would use it.
Students who have already done their laundry since returning to campus have taken notice of the new facilities and like the changes.
"I think the system is helpful because you just have so many things going on during the day, and you can just see an e-mail and it reminds you that it's done," junior Ryan Murphy said. Another benefit to the notification system is it will keep people from leaving their finished laundry in a machine.
"It's helpful because then you don't forget and leave all your clothes there and come back and find someone moved it," senior Jaryd Banach said.
Another new feature of the washing machines is they are now all front-loading, which is better for the environment. Front-loading machines save water and energy while allowing for a larger load size.
"There's a big push on campus about being green - being more environmentally conscious," Moran said. These front-loading washers will save more than one million gallons of water each year.
"I think it's really cool they're all energy efficient machines," senior Josh Anderson said, adding that he thinks the campus should do what it can to be more aware of the environment.
But because students have unlimited use of the machines, there is a concern that the laundry facilities will be overused, therefore wasting more energy than would be saved.
"I did laundry once every two weeks last year, now I'll probably do it once a week," Anderson said, adding that he believes other students will do their laundry more often as well.
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Banach and Murphy also said they would do their laundry more this year now that they do not pay for it every time. Unlimited use allows students to wash only a few articles of clothing at a time, which could result in a lot of wasted water.
"I would think that girls would use it if they wanted a shirt quickly washed," Banach said, but he added that because doing laundry is a chore, most people probably would not abuse the system.
What many might not know about the new machines is the new machines also require much less detergent than the old washing machines. Only one-quarter of a cup of detergent is required, and using too much can damage clothes and overflow the machine.
Moran said One Card Services would be advertising the new restrictions on detergents around campus because the issue has not been well-communicated.
The machines come from a new company with which the school started working. Moran said this company was chosen because they are service-oriented and proactive in checking the machines to make sure they are working properly.
"Someone from the company walks through the laundry rooms once a week on either Saturday or Sunday, when the machines get the most use," Moran said.
The company also monitors the eSuds Web site to see if any machines are not being used as much as the others, an indication that it needs to be serviced.
Overall, Moran said he was very pleased with how the new facilities are working, and his office will be keeping an eye out for any problems students might have in the future.
"Everything is going very well, and we haven't had a problem yet," Moran said.
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