A Drop Saved Is A Drop Earned: Helping Residents Conserve Water Helps You

A Drop Saved Is A Drop Earned: Helping Residents Conserve Water Helps You

Posted on 06. Jun, 2010 by in Greener Properties

Many people have heard of the term ‘peak oil’, but most are unfamiliar with a new concept called ‘peak water’. This refers to the practice of using more fresh water than the natural water cycle can provide. Peak water is currently resulting in fresh water shortages across the United States. While there are many techniques for producing clean drinking water, the most practical and cost effective strategy is to conserve water.

Mandates are in place in many parts of the country that require residents to lower consumption and reduce or even eliminate lawn irrigation. Fines and steep increases in water bills due to over-usage can also pose a heavy burden on renters. An out-of-control water bill can lead them to neglect landscaping, jeopardize security deposits and reduce your asset value.

Fortunately property managers can circumvent landscaping problems through good communication and/or installing region specific and drought tolerant landscaping. Reducing water consumption within the home is a much more complex issue, however, as usage is controlled by the occupants.

How can you help your residents achieve better conservation?

  • Install water saving aerators in the sinks and low flow showerheads in the bathrooms. There has been a great deal of improvement since the early days of these fixtures and excellent models are available that use only 1.75gpm (gallons per minute). Aerators should restrict the flow to 0.5 – 0.75gpm for bathroom sinks.
  • Provide an inexpensive shower timer in each bathroom and show renters how to use it.
  • If renters are installing their own washer and dryer, give a compelling case for a front-loading clothes washer. As you encourage them to look for manufacturer and local utility rebates, mention front-loading machines use only a third of the water of top-loaders.
  • Remind residents to run full loads in the dishwasher. No dishwasher? Provide an inexpensive plastic bin for the sink and suggest using it or a stopper in the drain. (It helps to remind residents they can save water by not letting it flow while washing dishes.) By keeping a large pot or plastic bin in the sink, residents are able to catch water from hand washing, rinsing or boiling vegetables or pasta. This ‘saved’ water can be used on household plants or taken outside and used in the yard. Keeping this water out of the sewer system also creates additional benefits.

How can you amplify your residents’ conservation efforts?

  • Consider upgrading an old dishwasher to an EnergyStar model. In addition to using less energy, the new machines use less than six gallons per load plus rebates may be available.
  • Consider installing a kit that turns regular flush toilets into dual flush types. These products are now readily available and can greatly contribute to an overall water conservation plan.
  • Institute a consistent maintenance plan to prevent accidental overflows of irrigation equipment and reduce and identify plumbing leaks quickly.
  • Encourage renters to report leaks as soon as they notice them and then thank them for letting you know!
  • Take advantage of local government and utility incentives. Many municipalities are offering free or low-cost deals on rain barrels and cisterns. The water captured in these barrels can then be used on the landscaping.
  • Contact the local water district and schedule a free water audit on the property. Often they are happy to come by and will offer aerators and other water saving devices free of charge.

Finally, keep track of all your water (and energy) saving enhancements and make them part of the property’s marketing plan. Enacting water conservation measures (and including them as part of a larger ‘green user guide’ for residents) shows that management cares about residents and their concerns about the environment and, as importantly, their pocketbooks. When comparing your rentals to others in the area, prospective renters will remember your thoughtfulness.

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