Water and Energy: An Intimate Connection

Water and Energy: An Intimate Connection

Posted on 11. Nov, 2010 by in Greener Properties

With over 30% of U.S counties projected to suffer severe water shortages by 2050, it seems prudent for independent rental owners and property managers to consider upgrades to fixtures and faucets to help ensure supplies well into the future. Reducing water consumption has the added benefit of lowering charges for sewage, electricity and other fuels used for pumping and heating the water.

Often people forget or are unaware of the intimate connection between energy and water. Nationally, almost 4% of our energy consumption is used to pump and heat water. Of course this number varies by region with California tipping the scale at about 19% of total energy consumption used for water. The connection between water and power means conserving one automatically conserves the other. Unfortunately, Americans are expected to dramatically increase their demands for power and therefore water. This finding is closely related to a number of factors including the prevalence of mobile devices, personal computers, data centers, diet and bio-fuel production.

While property management professionals have limited control over renters’ dietary habits or personal electronic use, providing low flow water saving fixtures can help ensure one’s assets retain value and meet the oncoming rush of mandatory water restrictions. But which fixtures and flow rates are best? The U.S. EPA has made choosing efficient fixtures easier than ever with the introduction of WaterSense labeled products. WaterSense labeled products aim for a minimum of 20% water savings over previous standards and, with the recent addition of showerheads, a complete inventory of WaterSense products is now available.

Fixtures/Flow Rates in gallons per minute (gpm) or gallons per flush (gpf):

1.5 gpm – Bathroom Faucets/Aerators
1.28 gpf – Toilets
0.5 gpf – Urinals
2.0 gpm – Showerheads
2.2 gpm – Kitchen Faucets

Bearing in mind that WaterSense is a maximum guideline, property owners concerned about asset value and water restrictions can install fixtures that conserve even greater amounts of this precious resource. For example, take a page from the hospitality industry and make 0.5 gpm bathroom faucet aerators the standard in your rentals. Dual flush and ultra high-efficiency toilets that use less than 1.0 gpf should be considered as well as retrofit kits that can turn current commodes into dual flush models; thereby reducing capital outlays and increasing the longevity of existing fixtures. Showers tend to be very personal and the EPA has performed extensive testing for comfort and satisfaction. Excellent WaterSense labeled showerheads are available that use 1.5 – 1.75 gpm.

From Florida to Georgia through Texas, Nevada and California, fresh water supplies are expected to dwindle. Take a moment and imagine asset values without adequate access to fresh, clean water. The easiest and most cost effective way to deal with the problem is through conservation. Contact your local utility to see if rebates are available or if the company will come out and perform a free water audit. Remember it is cheaper for utility providers to help property owners and managers save resources than it is to build more power plants or to desalinate or recycle water.

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