This summer’s soaring temperatures and our longest heatwave for over 40 years may already seem like a distant memory. But the hundreds of firms whose operations were threatened by water restrictions will be warmed up to the idea that it’s good business practice to manage their water and use it more efficiently.
This summer has highlighted that water is not as bountiful as we might often think. Rather, it’s a precious natural resource that needs to be used efficiently.
Saving water isn’t just about coping with heatwaves and shortages though. If your business has a water meter and you pay for what you use, saving water can save your business money – at any time of year. If you don’t have a meter, have a chat with your water supplier about getting one.
Money savings aside, when you think of the large amounts of energy needed to collect, treat, pump and deliver water to your business, using less will also reduce your business’s carbon footprint and environmental impact. A double win.
And, as if that wasn’t enough motivation, there’s even more good news. Saving water is really pretty easy. There are lots of ways to, ahem, ‘tap into’ some easy savings…
Modern taps are designed to be efficient and will typically have a flow rate of around 3 litres per minute. That’s plenty. In comparison, older taps can have flow rates as high as 20 litres per minute, literally pouring profits down the plughole.
The waste is even worse for hot water taps – where you have used energy, and money, to get the water up to temperature before pouring it away.
Fitting modern taps is one way to fix this problem. An even quicker and less costly solution is to fit tap aerators. Tap aerators can be retrofitted to most taps to reduce flow rates and they only cost about £5 each.
If your workplace is lucky enough to have a shower – which many workplaces do these days to encourage healthier lifestyle choices, such as cycling to work – this is another area where you could save some water and bank some money. Particularly if you have a power shower.
Power showers use around 12 litres of water per minute – that’s a staggering 120 litres of water for a 10-minute shower. However, by fitting a water efficient showerhead, which will cost between £25 and £60, it’s possible to maintain the performance of your shower, while reducing flow rates to around just 8 litres per minute. That’s a lot of water that can be saved if you regularly have staff showering.
While you’re at it, you might want to encourage staff to take shorter 5-minute showers too. A quick, bonus saving.
As well as potentially damaging your property, an undetected leak can quickly rack up a big water bill. A leaking tap, for example, even one with a just a 3mm flow, could cost your business around £752 every year in easily avoidable water and sewerage costs.
The best way to check for hidden leaks is to regularly check your bills and read your meter to see if your usage has any sudden spikes over time. Any anomalies could mean you have a leak.
It’s also a good idea to do an overnight check too. Take a meter reading after everyone leaves in the evening and then before everyone comes back in the morning. This way, you can see if you have unnecessary water use overnight. You can use our free tracker to record and check your water use.
The importance of measuring and monitoring water use is highlighted by an example at Hampden Park. Automated meter reading devices were installed to collect data on the stadium’s water consumption every 15 minutes, which helped to identify anomalies. The stadium acted quickly to fix issues and saved £40,000 in just 15 months.
Measuring and monitoring your water use will help you catch costly, hidden leaks. Finding other leaks, such as broken taps or toilets is much easier – particularly if you can encourage your colleagues to support you. Several sets of eyes and ears are better than one.
And, we’ve got everything you need to get your colleagues onboard and run a leak reporting campaign right here in our free staff engagement toolkit.
For hygiene purposes, urinals are often set to flush at regular intervals. And it’s common to see businesses where they are set to flush every 20 minutes, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. With a 15-litre cistern, that requires over 400,000 litres of water. Or to put it another way – a lot of water.
But, why have urinals flushing every 20 minutes, particularly at night and weekends if the building is empty and no flushing is necessary? You don’t need to – it’s a waste of water.
Installing a urinal timer is one way you can cut out this waste. A timer can be used to make sure flushing only happens during the working day – when the urinals are in most use.
An even better way to control urinal flushing is to install a sensor. The sensor can detect when people come into the room and only allow a urinal to flush after it has been used. A sensor can cost around £120 but, taking a 15-litre cistern for example, could save you over £800 a year.
You might not have noticed it, but toilet cisterns have got a good deal smaller over the years. Modern cisterns only hold around 6 litres of water. Older systems tended to hold as much 11 litres – that’s an extra 5 litres of water being used with every flush.
Don’t worry if you don’t have the most up-to-date cisterns. You don’t have to remodel your bathroom to save water. There are some really cheap gizmos on the market that you can put into your cisterns to reduce the amount of water they use. Speak to your water supplier and ask them about cistern volume adjusters or dams – they very often supply them for free or at a very low cost.
It’s a good idea to do a quick walk around your site every few months to keep an eye on your water use – for example, checking for leaks, making sure timers are working correctly, inspecting any cistern devices you’ve fitted to make sure they are still working. You’ll find this checklist provides a handy reminder of all the things to look out for.
If you would like to save water and money in your business, try these tips out and see just how big an impact they can have. And remember, if you would like help at any time, our advisors are here to help you. Just call 0808 808 2268
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