You might not think of water as one of your biggest utility bills. Think again.
Water usage is one of the largest utility costs some businesses such as a restaurants or health clubs incur. (It’s also a substantial cost for homeowners: The U.S. Department of Energy says that up to 25% of a home’s energy bill comes from the cost of heating water.) And remember, water usage generally gets paid for in three separate bills: Water utility bills, gas or electric bills (for the cost of heating it) and sewer bills. So reducing your water usage by, say, 30%, could produce nice savings on all three bills.
There’s another reason to care about water: Fresh water preservation is becoming an important national topic as more U.S. communities face water shortages.Water costs will likely rise over time if such shortages persist.
So, what can you do to keep your water usage and costs in check? Here are four things to look at:
1. Make no-cost behavioral changes. Many hot-water-saving strategies require no upfront cost at all. Consider things like only running your break-room dishwasher when you have a full load and turning down the temp on the water heater to 125 or 130 degrees, or the minimum needed in your industry. Here’s alist of simple tips homeowners and businesses can reduce their usage.
2. Fix drips and leaks. According to the Department of Energy, a leak of one drip per second can cost $1 per month. (If a water heater’s tank is leaking, however, you need a new water heater.) You can find some good information on repairing leaks here.
3. Make low-cost upgrades. Some very affordable gadgets can help a homeowner or business dramatically lower their hot water use. Installing low-flow fixtures in bathrooms and kitchens, such as low-flow showerheads, faucet aerators and pre-rinse spray valves, can reduce water use by 25% to 60% — again, reducing three of your utility bills. (Make sure the low-flow showerheads you install have a gallon-per-minute (gpm) rater of 2.0 or lower; aerators should have a 1.5 gpm or lower and pre-rinse valves should have a 1.6 gpm or lower.) Aerators often cost $2 or less and many low-flow gadgets can be purchased for under $30.
4. Buy energy-efficient equipment. If you’re willing to make a small investment in order to produce long-term water-heating savings, there are numerous types of equipment that can help you save water and money. Consider tankless water heaters and sensored faucets on your sinks rather than manually knobs. Also consider purchasing Energy Star or solar-powered water heaters, which often qualify for rebates from your utility or state government.
How have you reduced your water usage? (Energy Smart helps businesses reduce their water usage. If you need ideas or want us to help you identify water-conservation strategies at your business, give us a call at (651)292-4652.)
– by Chelsey M. Johnson