Spiking utility costs may hit laundromat customers in the pocketbook

Better start hoarding those quarters: Soaring energy rates are driving up the price of washing your stinky drawers. The Coin Laundry Association, a trade group representing about 5,000 “retail self-service laundries” nationwide, says its members are looking for ways to rein in skyrocketing utility bills. Laundro-operators are cutting the amount of drying time a quarter buys and looking at more energy-efficient washers and dryers that operate cooler — but longer — as well as other possibilities. Thomas Rhodes, owner of a Florida laundromat chain, says he’s considering taking advantage of federal credits to install solar panels atop his facilities. Wallace notes that while a person can cut back on driving or turn down the home thermostat, you really can’t avoid doing the dirty laundry. “It’s not something that can be rationed or put off until energy prices come down.”