Reducing Water Consumption Key to Saving Money; What Apartment and Commercial Building Owners Need to Know

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Reducing water consumption in apartment complexes and commercial buildings may seem like a monumental task. However, ensuring that toilets and interior and exterior faucets are working properly and are free from leaks will reduce water consumption and save money. According to Tru-Serve General Manager Troy Norberg, “Upfront costs sometimes scare building managers, but the savings can be recouped in two to three water bills."

Save money by repairing leaky faucets, encourage tenants to turn off faucets and report problems.

Upfront costs sometimes scare building managers, but the savings can be recouped in two to three water bills

Reducing water consumption in apartment complexes and commercial buildings may seem like a monumental task. However, without close attention to the condition of faucets, showerheads, and toilets, building owners could be flushing money down the drain. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, faucets, showers and toilets account for more than 59 percent of indoor water use in America. Ensuring that these fixtures are working properly and are free from leaks will reduce water consumption and save money.

Recently Tru-Serve, a Minneapolis-St. Paul area property and building maintenance company, conducted a water consumption assessment at an apartment complex with 21 units. According to Tru-Serve General Manager Troy Norberg, “Between kitchen and bathroom faucets and showerheads, we found an average water consumption of 5.9 gallons per minute per unit at this apartment complex. By replacing aerators on the fixtures, we were able to reduce that to about 3 gallons per minute per unit, which adds up to about 60 gallons per minute of water saved.”

Installing high-efficiency faucet and showerhead aerators will save thousands of gallons per year per apartment unit. “Upfront costs sometimes scare building managers, but the savings can be recouped in two to three water bills,” adds Norberg. It’s also important to repair leaky faucets and encourage tenants to turn off faucets and to report problems.

In addition to the faucets, toilets account for nearly one-third of building water consumption and one leaky toilet can waste about 200 gallons of water every day. Federal law mandates that residential toilets manufactured after January 1, 1994, and commercial toilets manufactured after January 1, 1997, must use no more than 1.6 gallons per flush. Ultra-low-flush toilets, which use no more than 1.6 gallons per flush, offer significant savings over other designs.

Flappers, which seal water into the tank and allow it to leave when the toilet is flushed, could be the reason for toilet leaks. They can deteriorate with age or develop mineral buildup causing a loose seal in the toilet tank. “To check if the toilet is leaking, simply use a dye tablet—they’re free from the hardware store—in the back of the toilet tank. If the dye leaks into the bowl, the toilet is leaking,” says Norberg.

According to Norberg apartment and building managers should also pay attention to exterior faucets. It’s a good idea to have exterior faucets controlled. Simply putting a key in a lockbox for access to the faucet can work. If tenants are allowed to water the lawn, it is worthwhile to put a timer on sprinklers as many times tenants can forget about them.

Steps to Reducing Water Consumption

  • Perform maintenance checks on faucets, showerheads and toilets every six months
  • Install high-efficiency faucet and showerhead aerators if necessary
  • Repair leaky faucets and toilets
  • Encourage tenants to turn faucets off and to report problems immediately
  • Upgrade toilets to those that use no more than 1.6 gallons per flush
  • Control exterior faucets

For over two decades, Tru-Serve has been meeting the property and building maintenance needs of clients in the healthcare, residential, commercial and nonprofit industries throughout the Minneapolis and St. Paul metro area. Founded on the belief that maintenance services can be comprehensive, exceptional and provided with personalized care, Tru-Serve consistently proves itself as a top maintenance and consulting services company.

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Elise Schadauer
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