Water saving tips

Keeping on top of your water consumption is easy with a little know how. Keep track of the building’s water bills to see how the usage changes over time. Sudden or regular increases may indicate a need to look more closely for possible problems. Leaks Look out for leaks. Even small leaks can add up to large water bills, as they happen all day, every day. If you are unsure, have a look at your main water meter late one night (when it is unlikely that many people are showering). If it keeps spinning around at a high and constant rate, chances are there are some leaks to be found and saved. Those buildings with a tank on the roof should check that the float valves that supply the tank are not worn – this can be a source of hidden leakage if the tanks silently overflow to drain at night. Checks to the valve can be made by pulling up on the arm, and checking to see if the water stops flowing at a level that would not allow water into the overflow drain. Cooling towers If you have cooling towers, check for wastage by looking for ‘overflow’ pipes coming out of the tower to drain, and seeing if there is any water flowing out of these. Some sites have ‘bleed water’ intermittently released through these pipes, but constant flow indicates a likely problem with the float valves shutoff height. Showerheads Showers are typically the largest single water use in apartment buildings. Executive Committees may wish to consider replacing older shower fittings to reduce flow rates to nine litres per minute or less. The good news is this is typically paid off in less than a year by the water and energy savings. The quality of the stream from the newer (high quality) low flow fittings may also surprise those who are used to more basic older designs. Rainwater Tanks While rainwater tanks are an excellent initiative, it is sometimes tempting to expect too much of them in reducing water use in apartment buildings. The small roof areas and minimal storage space available to most apartment blocks can limit the yield from rainwater tanks to a few hundred litres per day (even with large tanks). This small saving can often be outstripped by complacency with irrigation of gardens if people assume they no longer need to worry as a result of the tanks.” So, rainwater tanks are normally recommended after a building has reduced water use in the ‘larger’ areas. Inside Units The largest opportunities for water use reduction are usually inside the home. While it is often assumed that pools, spas and retail tenants are to blame for large water bills, submetering shows this is rarely the case. It is common for 90% or more of water use in an apartment building to be used inside the apartments – in showers, toilets, taps, leaks, washing machines and dishwashers. Water Pressure Water pressure can also be culprit of higher consumption. Water pressure is higher for the lower levels of a building than the higher levels – due to the higher ‘head’ of water pushing down. “High pressures can cause higher water use through higher flow rates, a higher likelihood of leaks, and increased wear and tear on washers, valves and flow regulators. Some buildings have ‘pressure reduction stations’ installed on some levels to limit this effect, but many don’t. Installing pressure reduction could help to reduce water use and future maintenance in the lower levels.” Whatever the size of the strata complex, a little investigation can result in significant water savings. Ref: Strata Community Aust

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