Recent television advertising has focused on being more efficient with water in the home. However, there are many simple things businesses can do to cut water use too.
Below is a guide to the benefits of using less water, combined with practical tips.
Many office based businesses are unaware of their water consumption, even when they have a meter installed. With a minimal investment of time and money, Envirowise estimates that adopting a systematic approach to reducing water use could cut usage by up to 30%. Cutting the use of water can also result in significant financial savings. Your waste water disposal costs may end up lower too.
Paying more attention to your business’ water use can also help to improve your ever prevalent environmental credentials, helping your relationship with customers, staff and the local community.
First of all, it’s important to establish a baseline of what water you are currently using, highlighting ways to achieve immediate reductions in water use. You can use the Energy Saving Trust’s water energy calculator to see how much you’re using.
The first things to consider when looking to save water include:
- monitoring the system for leaks or for dripping taps
- checking of meters at night (a sign of usage can reveal leaks)
- using heating and cooling systems only when needed
- water efficiency of products when buying new equipment
- ensuring cold and hot water pipes are well lagged
- only using washers when fully loaded
- educating staff on the importance of saving water
- setting of water usage targets
- if you can re-use any water
You may find that replacing older equipment will achieve cost savings in the longer term, as well as an environmental benefit. Keeping an eye on water meters and bills will soon show a difference.
If you are keen to go further, there are other changes your organisation can make. Most are focused around the washroom and kitchen, where the use of water is high, be it through taps, showers or toilets. In some cases, a lot of water is used to maintain gardens and rest areas. Below are examples of technology that can be used to save water:
The installation of passive infrared sensors will detect when someone enters a washroom. The sensor controls a solenoid valve that allows a pre-set amount of water into the cistern. When the cistern is full, it will flush the urinal.
Sensors are also useful for taps. They can be used to activate and stop water flow when someone is washing their hands. It also has the additional benefit of being more hygenic.
Use of timers combined with the ball valve means you can stop flushing from taking place at night, stopping the use of unnecessary water. This is more reliable than a manual turn-off as it doesn’t rely on someone remembering to shut off the cistern valve at the end of the day.
Popular in residential bathrooms, dual flushing gives the user a choice of two flush volumes and can now be fitted to cisterns installed before 1999.
With a tap aerator, the design of the tap nozzle allows air to mix with water when exiting the tap, giving the appearance of an increased water flow. These devices are easy to retrofit to existing taps and can deliver similar savings as other techniques.
A push tap controls the amount of water used. It will automatically stop after a preset delay, normally up to 20 seconds.
This simple use of technology simply stops the user from using the full flow that the tap can provide by stopping the lever moving more than halfway.
Many offices have sprinkler systems for their garden areas. By using a system that operates low to the ground, it reduces losses from evaporation and the wind. It’s also important not to leave automatic systems unattended. If it’s going to rain, they don’t need to be switched on!
You can reduce the need to water by up to 70% by using native shrubs and covering exposed soil with mulch, thereby retaining moisture.
Collecting rainwater is one of the cheapest ways of saving water. Installing a water butt or tank that harvests rainwater from the roof and/or drainpipes is a fast and cheap way of reducing your business’ overall bill.
Documenting your efforts
A systematic approach to the task of saving water is important. Otherwise, the programme may lose momentum. A documented policy can help motivate staff to help, making it easier to investigate ongoing savings.
If you have an Environmental Management System (EMS), or are intending to set one up, you should use this to manage your water use. To learn more about gaining a formal, certified EMS, you can read our dedicated page on ISO 14001 certification. Alternatively, set up a Water Usage Policy.
The good news is that, by investing in technology that reduces water consumption, you may be eligible for tax allowances under the Enhanced Capital Allowance (ECA) scheme.
Your water supplier may offer audits to see how efficient your business’s water usage is. Some may even offer a personalised water management package to get the best water efficiency plan for your business.