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Seven steps to water-saving heaven

Saving water saves energy and money, and should make you and your business feel good about yourselves. Get in the flow with our top water-saving tips and tricks


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We take water for granted in Scotland. It’s always there, falling out of the sky in one form or another, gathering in the millions of lochs, lochans, rivers and bogs that scatter the land. It keeps our reservoirs full so that when we’re thirsty we simply turn on the tap. When we want to wash ourselves, our clothes or our dishes, we can do so without a second thought.

But this easy flow of the good stuff comes at a cost. Getting water to where we need it consumes massive amounts of energy. Our intricate system of capturing, treating and moving water around the country burns through the gigawatts. And then we use yet more energy to heat the water when it arrives in our businesses and homes.  

Many of the products we buy contain embodied water – for example, clothes and food. They’re often produced in parts of the world where water is in scarce supply. It takes around 1,800 gallons of water to grow enough cotton to produce one pair of regular jeans. It takes 3.3 gallons just to grow one tomato.

So saving water can help vulnerable populations while reducing energy use and saving a few pounds and pennies. Whether you're a whisky distiller with water at its heart, a hotel with a large water bill, or a small business who cares – read on for our seven steps to water-saving heaven.

 

1. Install a smart meter

Installing a water meter won’t save you money in itself but without it you’ll be charged at the rateable value of your property. Water meters can give a baseline measurement of your water consumption so you can compare your use to similar businesses. This also helps you to see if your water saving measures are working.

To get started, download our guide ‘Save money on your water bill’. The guide goes into more detail on all the things mentioned on this page. It shows you how to examine your bills and measure your water use. It also explains how to check for any anomalies in your water supply that could point to faults or leaks.

 

2. Fix leaks and faults

Here’s an opportunity to be mindful in the workplace. Keep an eye on your water use by conducting an occasional walk around your business looking specifically for water problems. Train yourself to look at everything water related. Check for leaks in your taps and pipes, and look out for devices that aren’t working properly. When you spot something wrong, get a plumber in quickly to fix the problem. Using your eyes is a simple approach that can be surprisingly effective.

 

3. Change behaviour

If we had to hoick water from the local river every day, we’d be motivated to use less. But our water comes with the flick of a tap or the twist of a dial, which makes it’s difficult to gauge how much water we use in a day. In a typical office, the average water use is about 25 litres per person. That’s quite a lot, and comes from flushing toilets, washing hands, running water for the kettle, rinsing cups, and maybe even drinking some of it.

Encourage your staff to make sure taps are turned off fully and to report any leaks or problems. They should ensure dishwashers are full before they’re switched on, and that kettles aren’t boiled needlessly. Download our staff engagement toolkit to give you some ideas on how to get staff involved.

 

4. Sort out the washrooms

Over two thirds of water use in a typical office happens in the washrooms. There are many ways to save here. Try fitting low cost flow control devices to taps and showerheads, or installing self-closing taps or infrared sensors that automatically switch taps on and off. Infrared sensors can be handy in toilets and urinals so that they only flush when they need to. Low-flow toilets or cistern volume adjustors can also help. All in all, you’re aiming for a water flow that’s less Niagara Falls and more zen garden water feature.

 

5. Capture greywater

There’s a wide range of greywater systems available. These range from simple low-tech solutions (chucking your used dishwater on a garden bed) to the more complex (piping used water from your washing machine, sinks and showers to flush toilets). They can play a valuable role in reducing water use and therefore energy use.

 

6. Harvest rainwater

You can also capture water directly from the sky. An ideal close-looped water system would have us all collecting rain and re-using it in greywater systems, while treating sewage in situ through blackwater treatment systems. This is impossible for the majority of us.

However, we can ease strain on the system by collecting rainwater in water butts. Connect the butt to your building’s plumbing system and you can use the water for showers and laundry, or just to water garden and landscape areas during our balmier summers.

 

7. Go high-tech

There are high-tech options that water-intensive manufacturing industries can deploy to save significantly on water use. For example, closed-loop cooling systems capture water that’s been used to cool equipment and directs it to other purposes. This prevents water being flushed away after just one use, and can cut water use by as much as 70-95 per cent in some cases. Waste water treatment systems use UV or biological treatments to clean, filter and re-use wastewater on site.

And that’s it! Seven ideas to get you to a watery nirvana. It may be raining outside, and you may feel sun-starved, but when it comes to water think like a cactus and hold on to every drop you can. It’s the responsible thing to do.  Download our guide on how to save money on your water bill for lots more water reduction measures.  

Call us for more ideas on how to conserve water in your business or for wider energy and waste saving measures. Get connected with our expert advisors by calling  0808 808 2268 Monday - Friday 9am-5pm. 

Our support to reduce your business costs are funded by the Scottish Government and by the European Regional Development Fund through the £73 million Resource Efficiency Circular Economy Accelerator Programme.

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