With water supply being dictated wholly by geography, it is often believed that the only way to reduce water costs is by reducing your consumption. Whilst reducing consumption undoubtedly reduces cost, it is a common misconception that this is the only way to save money on your water bills.
With 24 major water companies in the UK divided by region, and all water users within that region supplied only by their local water company, there may seem limited opportunity for savings. The charging structures and mechanisms differ greatly with the price of water varying between £2.07 to £5.52/m3. For multi-site businesses, this can lead to an administrative and cost control nightmare. However, there are ways and means to take control of your operational water consumption and costs, plus achieve retrospective refunds and rebates from water companies.
Invoice validation – it might sound simple, but the best place to start reviewing your water costs is to closely monitor your bills. Ongoing analysis of invoices will highlight incorrect charges and unusual consumption patterns. Most multi-utility service providers review invoices through a simple mathematical calculation. To fully maximise saving opportunities, it’s best to use a service provider who understands the complexities of water charging. You need the ability to assess consumption against benchmark, review meter sizing, tariffs, wastewater and surface water drainage charges and the regulations applied to your bill.
Water audit – once invoices are under control and being regularly validated, understanding how you use water is the next step in controlling water costs. A survey can provide you with a full understanding of where and how water is used and discharged from a property and identify areas to reduce your consumption and maximise cost reduction opportunities through efficiencies, wastewater assessments and behaviour change.
Water reuse – many businesses have the opportunity to benefit from water reuse systems such as greywater recycling and rainwater harvesting. Depending on the type of business and method of water use, these systems can have a payback period of less than 3 years. Greywater recycling is especially suited to hotels due to an ideal supply and demand equilibrium; with the water from showers and baths, after filtering through an ultra-filtration membrane, used for toilet flushing. Rainwater harvesting is a versatile system which can be tailored to the requirements of a specific business and usage pattern.
Supplier negotiation – the water market is about to change. In April 2017, commercial water users will have the opportunity to negotiate with various retailers for supply of their water. Whilst this presents a great opportunity for cost saving, it is vitally important to be prepared by fully understanding your operational water usage. Adopting a water management approach which incorporates the initiatives mentioned is a good starting point for being able to maximise opportunities from retail competition.
Waterscan has been supporting hospitality businesses to lower water bills, use less water and become more socially responsible for over 20 years. If you would like to review your approach to water management, email email@example.com or call 01243 839 880 and mention you are a BHA member to benefit from a free desktop audit