Saving Water is an important way you can help the environment and help your business too. Every day in the UK, we waste over 3 billion litres of water or 25% of total water consumption. Put another way, that’s enough to fill over 1,000 Olympic swimming pools or make 50 billion cups of tea.
Making sure you’re not wasting water and taking positive steps to reduce water use in your business helps the environment by conserving this precious resource, while also reducing your water bills. And because processing clean water has a significant carbon footprint, by using less you are helping to make progress towards reaching net zero.
Check your water use
Measuring your water use is the first step to being able to make reductions. Check your water bills against previous bills. If there is a sudden jump, this may indicate a leak which needs to be investigated.
You can also make sure you only pay for what you use by installing a smart water meter. See South West Water’s website for more information.
If you are an accommodation provider, try this tool from the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance to measure your water use.
Keep up to date with maintenance and repairs
Having regular maintenance checks can help identify costly leaks early and ensure wastage and cost are kept to a minimum. For example, a faulty toilet can leak up to 400 litres of water a day.
To check for leaks you can find a time when your business is not using any water and take a meter reading; then take a reading again after several hours and see if there has been a change.
Ask your water supplier about water efficiency services
Many water retailers offer water efficiency services to help business customers save water, energy and money. They may be able to offer water audits, install water-saving technology, offer advice about recycling or reusing greywater from baths, sinks and kitchens and support engaging your customers and staff.
Don’t forget, unlike domestic users, many businesses can switch their water and wastewater suppliers to get a better deal and services. To find out more, visit the Ofwat, the industry regulator.
Install water efficient fixtures and fittings
Upgrading plumbing fixtures and fittings can mean significant reductions in water use.
Using spray taps rather than traditional taps reduces the volume of water coming out of the tap without diminishing pressure quality. Self-closing taps, which dispense water only when actively in use can make a real difference, particularly in shared bathroom areas.
Water-efficient shower heads and shower timers also maintain guest experience while significantly reducing water use.
Replacing traditional toilets with dual-flush toilets can mean significant savings. The average single-flush toilet uses 13 litres of water per flush, while for a dual-flush unit, the average is just 5 litres. Multiplied across your business, dual flush toilets could save thousands of litres of water a year. In public washrooms, waterless urinals offer considerable water and money-saving potential, while maintaining hygiene. Retrofitting existing units is often an inexpensive option, saving your business money while being more sustainable.
Even a cistern displacement device can save you 1 litre per flush or 5000 litres per year and can be obtained for free from most water companies.
Other water-saving, environmentally friendly products include water-efficient shower heads, shower timers or self-closing shower valves and soil moisture meters.
South West Water provides a range of free self-install devices that can help businesses reduce usage every day. You can apply online for these devices which will help cut down your usage and your bills.
Our Changemaker Champion Oakdown Holiday Park is a great example of a local business using innovative solutions to reduce water use, such as small shower heads, dual flush-in toilet cisterns and air-assisted self-closing shower valves.
Think about your laundry policy
Accommodation providers can introduce a linen reuse policy for bedsheets and towels, giving the customer the option not to change every day. You could hang a door hanger on the bathroom doorknobs – one side for fresh towels and the other for reuse. Another way to inform your guests is by placing a placard with a description of the program and instructions on how they can participate, for example by leaving their used towels on the floor or in the bathtub and hanging up towels they are happy to reuse.
Some businesses choose to offer discounts or other incentives to guests who participate in sustainable laundry initiatives, like our Changemaker Champion Alpine Park Holiday Cottages.
As well as reducing water bills and increasing the lifespan of your linens, CNN reports that participating in green initiatives like sustainable laundry policies increases guest satisfaction with their hotel stays!
Installing a water butt to collect rainwater can be a great, environmentally friendly way to save water. They can be fixed to any downpipe on your buildings, including sheds, greenhouses or garages. Rainwater is particularly good for watering planters and gardens but can be used in other ways too, such as for cleaning.
Sidmouth in Bloom is an example of a local group that is harvesting rainwater for use in their activities. They also use organic mulch to reduce water loss from the surface of flowerbeds and lessen the need for watering, while self-watering planters also reduce water use.
For more information about how to use water in the garden in a more environmentally friendly way, see these tips from the Royal Horticultural Society.
Recycling Grey Water
Grey water is wastewater from activities such as bathing, laundry, dishwashers, and sinks, but excludes 'black water' from toilet flushing. Businesses can collect their greywater by installing separate wastewater drainage and storage systems for grey water. The water can then be reused for cleaning, watering and toilet flushing. Although these systems can be expensive to retrofit, they are a good option if you are considering a major renovation. Our Changemaker Champion, Oakdown Holiday Park has gone a step further with innovation, installing a Victorian-style reed bed to filter and dispose of grey water.
Find out more about reusing grey water from the Centre for Alternative Technology.
Involve Staff and Customers
Providing clear information to guests about your efforts to conserve water can help to positively engage them in what your business is trying to do. Informing guests at check-in can help to set the scene. Clear signage to remind staff and guests to turn taps off, tell them about your linen policy and report any water leaks helps involve them in your efforts to conserve water. Independent NGO Waterwise provides a guide for businesses to involve staff and customers in water conservation, as well as printable free posters, see the Guide for Offices here.
Tell Us About What You Are Doing
If you are adopting water-saving measures in your business, we’d love to hear from you. Sharing knowledge about businesses who are pioneering best practices will help us to inspire other businesses to follow your lead, to achieve the goals in our sustainable tourism roadmap and continue to promote East Devon as a leader in sustainable tourism.
You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org