3 Tips to Increase Water Efficiency at your Housing Organization
We all know that taking a 30-minute shower is wasteful. However, did you know that a leaking shower-head can waste approximately 500 gallons of water per year? As a housing provider, you do not have just one shower-head – you can have hundreds or even thousands, depending on the size of your property.
While one leaking shower-head might seem minuscule, if you took into account every faucet and shower-head in every unit at your organization, this problem is not only consuming excess amounts of water, but it costs money that could be better spent elsewhere. The good news is that there are simple things you can do to use water efficiently without breaking your budget. Here are our top three tips:
- Perform visual checks during unit inspections of sinks and showers.
During each unit inspection, visually check every sink handle and faucet for possible leaks or corrosion. Go below the sink as well to look for leaking pipes and valves. With showers, in addition to inspecting the faucet, check for leaks in the tub converter while the shower is turned on. Dripping faucets can waste up to 1,000 gallons of water per week, which is why this simple check is so vital.
Another aspect to check in the bathroom is the flow rate of shower-heads to see if they are performing as rated. Most shower-head fixtures are labeled with a factory rated flow rate on the side of the head. To test to see if your fixture is performing as rated, use a flow bag, which is a plastic bag about one foot long. Hold the bag under the faucet, turn the shower on full flow, and collect the water for the recommended number of seconds to determine the flow rate as shown directly on the bag. If your flow rate is too high, consider replacing the fixture.
- Perform a leak test on toilets.
Did you know that a leaky toilet can waste up to 50 gallons of water per day? There are two simple ways to check if your toilet is leaking. One is to look for water movement in the bowl and listen for the sound of running water. Better yet, conduct a dye test by adding a few drops of food coloring or a dye pill into the tank. Wait five to ten minutes and see if any of the color is leaking from the tank to the bowl. If you do discover a leak, check to see if the flapper valve seal needs to be replaced, or if the float assembly, fill valve, linkage chain, or flush handle is poorly adjusted.
- Take daily meter reads to catch water problems.
If you notice that your property has above average water usage, or that usage is increasing for unknown reasons, start taking daily meter reads to look out for malfunctioning meters, irrigation systems used at the wrong time, or to detect worsening leaks that have previously been identified.
For even more inexpensive ways to find energy and water savings opportunities, click here to visit our resource center. Download a complimentary Multifamily Energy and Water Management Toolkit and watch a trailer for our three-part training series, Preventative Maintenance, Energy, and Water Conservation Series, created in partnership with the Stewards of Affordable Housing for the Future (SAHF).