The imbedded carbon footprint of water and Steps to Reduce Your Water Sewer Bill with Zero Investment or Debt
May 9, 2023

As a consumer, we really don’t think much about water- we simply turn on the faucet and water is magically there. Or push the button on the toilet and water comes rushing in to move the waste somewhere else. But pumping and treating water uses about 4% of all the electricity in the United States and the corresponding carbon footprint. Considering the energy used to extract, transport, treat and distribute water, the imbedded carbon footprint of a single gallon of water is an estimated 3.2 pounds of CO2 equivalent emissions.

Water and sewer charges are quickly becoming one of the largest expenses for apartment buildings and condo associations. Toilets, sinks, showers to even cooling towers make up the consuming devices for multi-family buildings. Water/sewer charges are accelerating faster than all other utility costs. But individuals in a condo or an apartment never see how much they use. The condo association is billed, and the amount is a line item on the annual budget and the apartment building owner sees it as an expense. The old phrase, “You can’t control what you don’t measure” is very true for water. In fact, the bills come after the fact and could be as long as just being issued quarterly.

Strategies on How to Control Water/Sewer Costs

Alternative Utility Services recently had a condo association contact us to consult on why their water/sewer bills were skyrocketing. They tracked the water usage and the expenses. Part of the expanding bills were due to rate increases from the city. This building was built in the early 1980s. Here are the steps we took:

1   Assess what the current water consuming devices were using. Built before 1991, toilets used 3.5 gallons per flush compared to the standard today of 1.6 gallons per flush so there was an opportunity to reduce the water/sewer bill, but this didn’t explain their rapid increase in water consumption.

2   We implemented our Water Watch program which monitors the water consumption in real time with the data available online. More critical is that we can read the consumption down to the minute. The critical part is to look for what consumption is happening at 3AM, 3:01, 3:02, 3:03 and we found that there was always 8 gallons per minute flowing which translates into over 4 million gallons of water leaking annually or over $44,000 in leaks. You should always be monitoring water consumption in real time to watch for leaks. Every toilet with a flapper is going to leak one day.

3   There were two opportunities to gain control over the water/sewer expenses. Reduce the amount of gallons per flush and stop the leaks. We have two options to achieve this- rebuild the existing toilet with a new system that has leak detection in it but would only allow going from 3.5 gallons down to 2 gallons. Or replace the existing toilets with a new toilet with now flapper that only uses .8 gallon per flush. An additional plus was that the new toilets are right height or ADA compliant compared to the old toilets.

4   The condo board opted for the new toilets through our Water Savings-as-a-Service funding platform for the up front capital. A total of 188 owners opted for a new toilet to be installed since some people had already replaced their toilet over the years. installation team completed the 188 toilet installation in just three days.

5   The association’s water/sewer bill dropped by $5,000 per month while their Water-Savings-as-a-Service payment was only $1,700 per month for 5 years and then the association would retain 100% of the savings going forward.

You can’t control what you don’t measure in real time. Contact to reduce your carbon footprint and your budget with No Investment or Debt.

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