It’s not just the recent heatwaves and announcements of drought across the UK that has caused water to become the hot topic in the realms of energy management. But it is broadening attention for the concerns that some have had for many years.
Fear of water scarcity has been cited as one of the biggest risks to the continuity and growth of businesses. Many organisations are anticipating physical threats in terms of quality and supply to materialise by as soon as 2025!
Having experienced the enormous rise in wholesale gas prices recently and the subsequent increase in electricity costs, should we take heed in terms of water?
By 2050 business operating costs could be substantially affected. As with energy, using water only when necessary is the sole means to a sustainable future.
Without close surveillance of use it is impossible to develop a comprehensive water strategy that reduces water consumption and the energy to heat it.
Monitoring the volume of water entering premises is easy. But what about when the water is in the system? How is it used? Can efficiencies be made? Is there any waste? – Leaks are a prime example – According to the Association of British Insurers (ABI), Escape of Water (EoW) is costing UK insurers £2.5 million per day!
“According to the Association of British Insurers (ABI),
Escape of Water (EoW) is costing UK insurers £2.5 million per day!”
“Prevention is better than cure” is so true when applied to leaks and the catastrophic damage they cause. But less dramatically, the waste of a precious commodity just ‘dripping’ away unnecessarily is becoming a real problem that can easily be prevented with devices that focus their attention at point of use.
At first glance their value may appear inconsequential but let’s look at a specific sector – Student Accommodation. There are approximately 500,000 toilet/shower facilities within the 1.6 million purpose-built and HMO student rooms. Daily, a lot of water passes through this many showers, and it is estimated that approximately 8% of toilets leak. With this insight, the relevance of devices that change behaviour or flag up a problem becomes clear.
Looking at toilet leaks first: A device that attaches to the cold-water inlet of a cistern, monitors the temperature in both the pipe and the room. The differential signifies that cold water is flowing through the pipe. A constant flow highlights that the cistern isn’t doing its job. Money is literally going down the pan. This could be a subtle dribble or a considerable flow, either way, if unchecked a single toilet could waste 140,000 litres per year. Multiply this by the estimated number of leaks in this sector and the waste is eye-watering, at almost 6 billion litres!
“For a sustainable future, the understanding of water consumption
combined with control is essential in resolving efficiency issues.”
Changing behaviour is more complex than signalling problems. Studies have shown that providing people with information pertaining to water/energy use, and the habits of their peers, while simultaneously making them aware of the time they spend under the shower, naturally encourages a change in behaviour and a shortening of their ablution regime.
A device affixed to a bathroom wall with integrated PIR and sound pressure sensor detects movement and water flow. This indicates the shower is in operation. An upward counting clock is activated. The purpose – to promote awareness of time spent in the shower.
If shower times could be shortened by just 1 minute – annual savings across student accommodation for combined energy and water costs could amount to £40M and 7 billion litres of water!
An energy management system with multiple inputs is a practical solution to monitoring and managing water in large commercial dwellings. In addition to the two devices described above, Leak detection pads, Shut-off valves, Water meters, Pipe sensors and Cylinder temperature probes can link with control units around the building. Data transmitted to the internet portal gives managers control, remotely. This ‘big picture’ provides an understanding of consumption and potential waste, helping them to develop strategies to save on both energy and water costs.
For a sustainable future, the understanding of water consumption combined with control is essential in resolving efficiency issues. The potential scarcity, and therefore the need to maximise efficiencies of water should be of equal, if not greater, concern than monetary savings.