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Here’s how to dam up unnecessary spending on your water usage

Posted on January 22, 2014 by

So you’re a property manager, and you’ve been working hard to improve the efficiency of your portfolio of buildings by retrofitting equipment and addressing problems with your heating/cooling systems. Your energy management efforts have led to impressive electricity and gas savings this month, but you’ve been blindsided by spiking water costs.  You’re not alone: water cost management is often overlooked.

All hope is not lost. Although water bills typically come less frequently and online data can be hard to come by, water usage can be effectively monitored and inexpensive measures can be implemented to curb unnecessary waste and spending. Based on the National building average water usage, We have found that water typically accounts for about 1/3 of utility costs in a multifamily building.

What can you do? Where do you start?

First, use your recent historical data to benchmark the water usage in the buildings within your portfolio. By using gallons per bedroom per day as a metric of efficiency, it’s easy to identify the outliers. Boston Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) recommends using 75 gallons/bedroom/day as a threshold to pick out poorly performing buildings, although this can depend on the type of multifamily building. You can do this by hand or use a software tool like Terawatt Solutions to automate the analysis.

Once you’ve benchmarked your water usage and understand which buildings need attention, it’s time for action. Unlike gas and electricity conservation measures, water-related upgrades are typically low-cost and have quick paybacks. Installing low-flow toilets, aerators and TeraValves can provide immediate relief to high water bills, as can fixing leaking toilet flappers. 

Now, there’s still a bit more work to do. In order to ensure that these measures stay intact and prevent leaks, monitoring ongoing usage is crucial. Quarterly data is a start, but it may be worthwhile to sub-meter buildings to access monthly data. In either scenario, monitoring for spikes helps you maximize savings over time.

Time and again we’ve seen properties achieve significant cost reductions through this combination of benchmarking water usage, addressing problem areas with smart retrofits continuous monitoring and the installation of the TeraValve..