Why Should My Business Be Water Efficient?

Water efficiency has many benefits.

The average business wastes a significant amount of resources and money on their water each year; 30% of UK businesses use more water than necessary.

Everyone wants to save money that they can reinvest into their business and taking better control of your business could save you money. If you are on a meter for your water this is particularly true.

Reducing your water consumption will also help reduce your waste and effluent volumes. This means more savings, and also means that you will become more sustainable.

Water efficiency is important because it will reduce your carbon footprint and establish your business as one which advocates for greater social responsibility. This can do a great deal for improving your reputation, and for the planet.

How can I make my business more water-efficient and reduce consumption?

Ultimately you are aiming to limit and reduce your usage as much as possible, when trying to improve your efficiency.

These are some methods that will help you to increase your efficiency; they are very simple:

Fully Close TapsA leaking tap can waste 60 litres of water in a week Swapping to spray taps can also help significantly reduce consumption
Swapping out old appliances for ones with water efficient settingsThis will improve your water consumption by reducing the amount of water your appliances take up It is a good idea to also encourage your staff to be mindful of their consumption and use appliances in an efficient way, if you cannot afford replacements. Efficient usage might include only boiling the kettle with the amount of water you actually need in it.
Water saving devices in toiletsIn some cases, these reduce water consumption up to 50% Urinals are a culprit of water inefficiency so if you can afford to consider upgrading to a waterless alternative. Cistern reduction devices are a low-cost option, and they can save up to 3 litres of water when you flush the toilet.

Pay attention to your meter so that you can see when usage is most high and detect whether there’s a possible leak in your assets.   

How can a supplier help to improve my water efficiency?

A supplier has a duty to help you if you enquire about how you can improve your water efficiency.

Your supplier may offer a water efficiency audit. A water efficiency audit checks for inefficiencies in your water use and also looks for potential improvements to help you save water and money.

Enquire with your supplier about smart meters – they can be a real money saver. Smart meters keep a constant display of your usage, and they also automatically update the supplier of your usage. This means that the pair of you both have an improved understanding of your consumption. This can help you make more informed choices with your usage, and it also means that what you get charged on your water bill is only for the water you really use.

In some cases your supplier may offer your business a tailored programme to assist you in controlling water usage – it is worth enquiring to your contact point about this as it can really support some businesses.

Check your supplier’s social media too – some suppliers share advice, latest updates in water efficiency, helpful devices, and recycling tools on these sorts of platforms. All this advice and techniques can help you save little bits of money, and water, wherever you can.

How can I detect a leak?

You can check for a leak yourself by carrying out a meter check, it is best to do this during a quiet period. A quiet period is a period of time where your water usage is usually very low so you can spot an unusual spike in usage indicating a leak. It is easiest if you have a smart meter for this procedure.

A stop tap test can make the likelihood of a leak much clearer. This is how you carry one out:

  1. First, check that your internal stop tap is working – you will need to repair it if it is not closing fully. 
  2. During a time when there is zero water consumption on your premises, observe the water meter for any movement, and take a reading. Zero movement on your meter should indicate that there is no leak, but if there’s movement, then this indicates there may be a leak. 
  3. Turn off the internal stop tap and check if the meter is moving again – if it is, then there is a leak between your meter and the internal stop tap. If stationary, then there may be a leak beyond the stop tap but within the premises.

Now that you have potentially identified a leak yourself, and if you think that there is a leak, it is important you contact a plumber to assess any potential damage

Alternative Water Sources

What is an alternative water source?

An alternative water source is a sustainable source of water and it works to help offset the demand for freshwater.

What are the benefits of using alternative water sources?

Using alternative water sources are invaluable and can help your business to:

  • Save money,
  • Guarantee the quality and quantity of your supply even when standard service is disrupted,
  • Reduce your environmental impact,
  • Help offset the demand for freshwater,

It makes it all seem worth it, really!

What are my options for sourcing alternative water?

Rainwater collected from your roof or other surfaces, diverted, and deposited in a tank for later use is known as harvested rainwater. Rainwater that has been collected is likely to be polluted by toxins in the atmosphere, but it can be processed to make it drinkable. To meet safety requirements, treatment would have to be thorough. Most companies will be able to instal rainwater harvesting and treatment systems, but a permit will often be required to ensure that structures are not obtrusive. 

Water that has been discharged, cleaned, and reused is referred to as reclaimed wastewater. Non-potable regulations are often applied to reclaimed wastewater. To promote sustainability, the water will be treated by a government agency that will sell it at a lower cost than regular water. Reclaimed wastewater can be treated to potable requirements, but this would necessitate further treatment to eliminate pollutants. For water providers, this can be costly.

Greywater is non-potable wastewater from drains, showers, and washing machines that can be reused for things like flushing toilets and irrigating lawns. Water will need to be filtered and lightly handled before being reused in your house, so it will need to be retrofitted with appropriate plumbing. A filter may be used to eliminate solids, although more advanced treatment options may include UV treatment and disinfection. Greywater reuse not only helps to minimise the need for freshwater but also helps to reduce the need for water treatment at facilities.

Boreholes are deep, narrow wells that extract natural underground water. Borehole water is at low risk of pollution and of higher potability than other alternative sources, but may still require filtration. Boreholes are a perfect, cost-effective choice for companies that have the infrastructure to build a pump.

What do I need to consider before implementing alternative water projects?

Unfortunately, alternative water sources aren’t always a feasible choice for all.

To be able to rely on alternative water schemes, your business site will require sufficient resources and rainfall. Your anticipated alternative resource supply should be equal to your water requirements.

Consider the risk of your water supply being disrupted – if your company is located in an environment where service is likely to be disrupted, it might be a smart idea to invest in alternative water sources and facilities that can continue to function in an emergency to reduce the impact on your business.

You’ll need to correctly predict your business’s demand when choosing a device so that you can choose equipment that’s the right size to capture and store your water.

When choosing equipment, consider the water quality you’ll need. Alternative water can be sourced and processed to be potable or non-potable, so it’s important to fit it to your company’s needs.

Some water systems require a permit in order to be installed so planning early will help you to begin using alternative sources as soon as possible. 

How much does it cost to install alternative water systems?

The cost of installing an alternative water system is determined by the system and the size and potability requirements of your company.

For a small company, rainwater harvesting systems may cost between £3,000 and £5,000 in equipment alone. For 1,000 litres, a basic water butt connected to a drainage system (but not to your pipes) would cost about £300.

Sophisticated harvesting equipment will set you back between £2,500 and £4,000. A 5,000-litre tank would cost about £15,000 to purchase and build for a larger company.

For a small company, greywater systems cost between £4,000 and £8,000 to purchase and build. Furthermore, a professional can charge about £150 per year to clean the system’s membrane filters, which help to keep the water clear.

Installing and connecting a regular 60-meter borehole costs between £6,000 and £10,000. Annual operating costs range from £50 to £600, depending on use, and water treatment for potability costs an additional £1,500 to £3,000 each year.

How much could I save by using alternative water sources?

The amount you will save will be determined by your business’s needs and the framework you have in place.  When calculating how much money can be saved, bear in mind the expense of installing these systems.

Rainwater harvesting could save your company between 35 and 55 percent on its annual water bill.

Suppliers also sell reclaimed wastewater at a lower cost than normal wastewater. Reclaimed water can be up to 40% less expensive than regular water in some situations.

Greywater recycling will reduce your water use by up to 40%, which means you’ll save money on your bills as well.

Boreholes will greatly reduce the costs because you will be supplying your own water, while construction can be costly for some companies. Some agricultural businesses say that they can recoup their investment in less than a year.  Borehole water could cost a tenth of what you’d pay for water from a traditional supplier per cubic metre.

For more information about this post and how Energy Solutions can help with your Electricity, Gas, or Water, click on the links, or check out the contact details at the bottom of the page.