Tom Melhuish 6 min read

Reducing your water consumption as a business

In the UK, the twinned impact of a growing population and climate change puts severe pressure on water resources. Our guide explores the simple steps your company can take to reduce wasted water.

Why should my business reduce water consumption?

There are three reasons why UK businesses should focus on reducing water consumption:

  • Reducing your carbon footprint – The process of treating and pumping water in the UK network is highly energy-intensive. It is estimated that the greenhouse gas emissions of the regional water networks in the UK have an equivalent impact to 1.5 million cars on the road.
  • Conserving water – The Environmental Agency warns that the UK could face water shortages by 2050 if households and businesses don’t take action to reduce consumption. Help the water scarcity problem by reducing consumption.
  • Saving money – Businesses and other non-households are charged water on a volumetric basis. Reduce the amount of water your business wastes, then you’ll save money on your business water bills.

How do I know how much water my business is using?

Most businesses in the UK don’t have a good idea of how much water they consume. A business property will have a water meter installed where the water network is connected to your building.

A water meter measures how much water goes into the property and it is used by your business water supplier to calculate how much to charge you for water.

Unfortunately, water suppliers only aim to read water meters every six months; this means it doesn’t work well for measuring patterns in water consumption and is almost useless in detecting increased usage that occurs in a water leak.

The solution is an automated water meter readings from a smart meter.

What are the benefits of smart water meters?

A smart meter is just a fancy way of saying a water meter transmits the water usage data in real-time. Most business water suppliers can arrange to fit an automatic meter reader to your current water meter to upgrade it to a smart meter.

A smart meter will continuously measure the water consumption, which you can access through an online portal. The online portal allows you to analyse the real-time data to understand and see the impact of any water-saving initiatives that you introduce.

With a smart meter, you can set up an alerts system that will indicate if there have been any significant increases in water consumption. This is especially useful as an early warning indicator for water leaks.

A smart meter can usually be fitted to your business property without the need for interruption of your water supply.

How to reduce your water consumption as a business

Now you are in a better position to understand how much water your business consumes, let’s look into ways that we can reduce this consumption:

Cistern reduction devices

The cistern is the tank that sits on top of toilets. A cistern reduction device reduces the amount of water used in each flush by reducing the volume of water held.

These devices are very cheap and effective, reducing up to three litres of water in each flush. Northumbrian Water, a wholesaler, sell a device here.

Tap Aerator

Tap Aerators are small, cheap devices that can be fitted to the end of taps to save on the amount of water used by up to 60%.

The aerator acts as a fine sieve that separates the water into many tiny streams surrounded by air. The mix of air and water ensures that there is no perceivable reduction in water pressure despite the reduced water coming out of the tap.

Rainwater harvesting

Now for a more involved but highly effective solution to reducing water consumption. Rainwater harvesting systems look to make use of rainwater collected from the roof of your business before using water you have to pay for from the water network.

Given the inclement weather in the UK, a rainwater harvesting system can greatly impact the amount of water your business purchases.

Rainwater harvesting works by collecting rainwater from your roof area and depositing this into an underground storage tank. A multi-stage filtration system, including UV disinfection, converts the water to the same high quality as your current supply.

When rainwater is available, this will be used by your property, only relying on the water network when the collected rainwater runs out.

Checking for toilet leakage

Leaking toilets is one of the most common sources of wasted water in the office environment. Ever noticed that a toilet sounds like it is constantly filling? It’s a common problem.

If the refill valve of a toilet is not closing correct, the toilet will constantly be using water. A regular maintenance check of your toilets will easily identify and fix these problems.

A regular check for small leaks

The water network in an office building is extensive, which means leaks can occur in several places.

Make a practice of regularly checking in the back of cabinets and under basins for any signs of mould or foul smells that might indicate a leak.

Not only will this save wasted money from water consumption, but it will potentially save you money in repairs from the damage a leak will cause over time.

Switch to a water supplier that provides water efficiency initiatives

In the open water market, businesses can choose their water supplier.
Some water suppliers actively partner with their customers providing water efficiency audits and other products to help businesses lower consumption.

To determine if your business can benefit, we suggest using the AquaSwitch free comparison service to see what alternative suppliers are available for your business.