Liam Greenall, water-saving expert at phs Group
Businesses are entering the next phase of the year with one of the biggest clouds of uncertainty they’ve ever faced. While necessary, the extensive Covid-19 lockdown and social distancing measures have challenged businesses like never before; leading to reduced occupancies and decreased demand while fixed costs have remained high. The pressure to cut costs is sky high and opportunities to quickly and effectively achieve cost savings have become the holy grail.
While there are some costs that are easy to reduce, once you’ve ticked those boxes, where do you turn next? The answer could be waiting for you in your washroom.
Easily overlooked, washrooms are the biggest source of business’ water usage. In fact, research has found as much as 90% of water is used within a business’ washroom. Conversely, when it comes to achieving water savings, washrooms are often at the end of the list – and sometimes forgotten about entirely. But when you consider wasted water costs UK businesses a staggering £3.5bn a year and that a few simple water-minimisation measures can cut water usage by up to 70% in the washroom, suddenly this becomes a very attractive business proposition. In fact, saving washroom water is one of the easiest and most inexpensive ways a business can cut costs. What’s more, saving thousands – if not millions – of litres of water each year is not only the right thing to do for your business bottom line but it’s also the right thing for the planet too.
So how can you do this? The first task is to go into your washroom and look at your urinals. Most urinals have an automatic flush process; something you probably don’t give a second thought. However, urinals are programmed to flush every 15 to 30 minutes all day, every day, even if they are not being used. They are quite literally flushing your money straight down the toilet. In normal pre-Covid circumstances, this creates a lot of water wastage during quiet times or when a premises is closed. But now, when washrooms are being used even less frequently, the level of wasted water is exacerbated and most businesses are continuing to pay out for high water bills when they simply don’t need to be. The answer is to be smarter with your washroom water management.
Introducing intelligent flush controls means that urinals will only flush when you need them to. These include infrared technology which detects the presence of the first customer or employee and begins working as soon as its needed. At normal occupancy levels, this results in an average saving of £800 a year per washroom – and more than 300,000 litres of water. At reduced occupancy levels, there is scope to increase these savings even more substantially.
If you’re in the business of saving money, there are several other measures you can take to realise further water and cost efficiencies. This includes devices and mechanisms to reduce the flow of water from washroom taps by as much as 8 litres per minute and to save as much as three litres from every toilet flush.
Implementing water-saving measures such as these are already working for businesses up and down the country. Pub company EI Group is set to save as much as 80 million litres of water per year in its washrooms across its managed estates by reducing flushes. Meanwhile motorway services operator Welcome Break is set to save more than 118 million litres in its first year – that’s enough to fill 48 Olympic-sized swimming pools – and save 41 tonnes of carbon. Water management has also helped a city council save 96% of urinal water usage and 80% of washbasin water, a sports stadium use 65% less water with a financial saving of £15,000 and has reduced a pub chain’s water consumption by 80%, saving over £600 per washroom each year.
New investment may not sound the most appealing option at the moment but the benefit of water-saving controls is that they deliver demonstrable cost savings and quickly pay for themselves thanks to their ability to cut costs so quickly – and they keep generating savings each and every day.
Water is a precious resource but it is also finite. During lockdown, increased demand has also put more pressure on supply levels making conservation even more important. Moreover, saving water also helps businesses reduce their carbon footprint. And while financial savings are key for any business, conserving water is also the right thing from an environmental perspective.
We live in an environment where we expect a constant flow of water without question. But water is a precious and finite resource. The UK has less available water per person than most European countries while demand continues to grow, particularly as we’ve seen during lockdown which puts even more pressure on supply levels. This makes it essential for everyone to play their part in conserving water. The good news is that, as we’ve seen, this also makes financial sense, delivering savings on an organisation’s water bills as well as helping businesses reduce their carbon footprint. This means that doing your bit for the environment is not only easy but makes financial sense, saving significantly on cost; something which so many businesses are working so hard to achieve in today’s climate.