By Tony Ellerker, Director of Blakes M&E Building Services

It’s the ugly truth – businesses use too much water. According to Thames Water, a typical office uses 50 litres of water per employee per day, and the fact is that this isn’t just inefficient and bad for the environment, but it’s also costing you money. Water is an expense just like any utility, and the odds are good that your business’s water bill doesn’t have to be nearly as high as it is.

Here are a few simple, cost-effective ways you can reduce the water-use of your business by saving water in the office.

  1. Install water-saving devices
Before you balk, these don’t by any means have to be expensive. A Hippo Water-Saver, for instance, is simply a tough polythene bag that is placed inside a toilet cistern that saves around 2.5 litres of water per flush. It costs £8.94 for a bag of three, but chances are you may be able to get some free from your water supplier. If your office has showers then consider installing a water-saving showerhead like the Pure Pulse Eco Shower Head or the Ecocamel Jetstorm. Also, look at your urinal controls, specifically how often your urinals are flushing. It’s likely you’ll be able to adjust your urinals to flush more sparingly without compromising on hygiene.

One final note – you can claim back 100% of the cost of water-saving capital assets against your taxable profits in your business’ first year. More information here.

  1. Be diligent and check the meters
Hopefully you’re already doing this, but if not then it’s time to start. Know where your meters are, and delegate a member of staff to check them regularly and report usage. If your water use increases then investigate why, and make sure to use the meters to monitor the effectiveness of your water-saving measures. If you need a more detailed breakdown of consumption, consider ordering water sub meters.
  1. Find the internal stop tap
The internal stop tap is a device that allows you to shut off your building’s water supply in case of emergency, and if you don’t know where yours is and how to operate it then you absolutely should. Make sure line managers at the very least are familiar with the location of the stop tap and the ins and outs of its operation. This will minimise the amount of wasted water gushing all over your building if a true emergency befalls you.
  1. Arrange a water audit
If even with careful monitoring of your meters you can’t figure out where water wastage is coming from, get in touch with your supplier or an independent firm about arranging a water audit. A qualified technician should be able to give you a detailed breakdown of your water usage and point to the areas where you can improve matters.
  1. Insulate your pipes
Insulating your pipes serves two water-saving purposes. First, protecting them against the cold means they’re safe from frost, which can cause them to burst. A burst pipe, of course, is a rather significant problem. Insulated pipes also allow you to save fuel by keeping the heat in, meaning that people are less likely to leave taps and showers running while waiting for them to warm up.
  1. Find creative ways to get the staff involved
Do better than simply telling staff they need to be water efficient. Incentivise it by asking for suggestions on the best ways to save water and awarding prizes for the best ones. Also, consider factoring water conservation into performance reviews for line managers,.
  1. Fit water butts
Fitting a few water butts around the building allows you to harvest rainwater for uses elsewhere. If you have plants in the office this is a good way to collect the resources to water them.