Water Reform and Water Savings: Now’s the Time to Strike

Lee Ashworth writes a water saving blog for Utility Week to mark the end of water saving week.

The reforms of the Water Act 2014 finally “go live” for all businesses, charities and public sector bodies next month – allowing all non-household customers to switch water supplier.

With this week also being Water Saving Week, it seems like an opportune moment for businesses to explore how they can cut their water costs.

New entrants are joining the market and the pressure to offer improved services is increasing among the incumbents.

At Npower Business Solutions – using a combination of technological innovation and behavioural change – we have generated absolute water reduction of 31.3 per cent over the past 36 months across our portfolio. Needless to say, this drives real cost savings.

Waste not…

Reliable and accurate data is essential for targeting savings. To get it, you need to make sure that you have AMR (automatic meter readers). These allow you to collate consumption, diagnostic and status data across your portfolio, down to 30 minute intervals.

At npower we transfer that data to a central database for analysis, using intelligent analytics data visualisation software to track half-hour reads from the meters across our largest sites.

We then collate the data and analyse it to identify high use hotspots and times – and ensure that it fits the water bills received. If consumption is significantly different to our forecasts we can analyse this half-hourly data to see why, making adjustments on a site by site basis.

(Pro-tip: check your meter readings for the night too. Often an easy way to identify leaks…)

Splash out…

Return on investment for over-the-counter water saving technologies is surprisingly quick for commercial buildings; typically less than five years.

Tools such as urinal controls or waterless systems, automatic or sensor taps, energy efficient boilers and efficient equipment installed in catering facilities are all vital.

Behavioural change is also crucial though – and this can include making sure that your facilities management teams are challenging contractors. Incentives for environmental managers to deliver great results can work wonders too! Behavioural change also extends to regularly maintaining equipment that can have an impact on water efficiency.

Putting rain water harvesting in your opportunities register alongside grey water recycling is also worth considering. The ROI takes longer than many technologies, but for businesses eyeing a substantial retrofit, certainly worth considering.

Your water policy

Setting a clear water policy can be the difference between negligible and impactful savings. Ours complements our ISO14001 system and environmental policy. Under it, water performance is monitored in depth on a monthly basis by our environmental and energy managers in line with ISO14001 and ISO50001, enabling us to take a systematic approach.

With the unbundling of the water industry, those with large estates would also be wise to look at seeing whether one company could supply the whole portfolio, driving both management time and cost efficiencies.

Our success in harmonising energy providers across our different sites and securing flex purchasing packages is one that we expect to see mirrored in the water industry, driving efficiencies in management time as well as cost efficiencies.

As market liberalisation finally nears, why not let Water Savings Week kick-start an entirely fresh look at your approach to water management. Contact your utility to see if they can help – the pressure is on them to keep customers happy!

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