Conserving Water Helps Reduce Fuel Costs

Key Points

  • A water-efficiency program is an excellent way to reduce your water heating bill.
  • High-efficiency plumbing fixtures, appliances, and other equipment can yield savings on water, sewer, and energy bills.
  • Landscape irrigation can be a significant source of water consumption during the growing season in some climates.

Water heating is a significant source of energy use in most commercial, industrial, and institutional facilities. While energy-efficient water heating equipment and maintenance practices can help cut costs, a water-efficiency program is an excellent way to reduce your water heating bill. When a facility uses water efficiently, it can also reduce costs associated with electrical power, chemical use, and waste water discharge. So, not only will water conservation lower your energy bill, it can help you to positively impact the environment as well.

The following guidelines are designed to be a starting point for a program to improve overall water efficiency, as well as reduce hot water use.

General Management Practices

Make a company commitment to water efficiency.

  • Designate a water-efficiency coordinator.
  • Develop a mission statement and a plan.
  • Educate and involve your employees in water-efficiency efforts.
  • Let chemical suppliers or service contractors—cooling tower, laundry, dishwasher, landscaping—know that water efficiency is a priority for your company.

Equipment Changes

High-efficiency plumbing fixtures, appliances, and other equipment can yield substantial savings on water, sewer, and energy bills.

  • Install high-efficiency toilets, or retrofit water-saving devices on existing toilets.
  • Install faucet aerators and shower heads.
  • Use water-efficient ice makers.
  • As appliances and equipment wear out, replace them with water-saving models.
  • Eliminate “once-through” cooling of equipment with municipal water by recycling water flow to a cooling tower, or replacing with air-cooled equipment.
  • For large laundries, install a rinse-water recycle system, and consider continuous-batch (tunnel) washers in new or expanded facilities. For small operations, consider high-efficiency clothes washers.

Operating and Maintenance Procedures

A small investment can yield big savings.

  • Find and repair all leaks.
  • Minimize the water used in space cooling equipment in accordance with manufacturers’ recommendations.
  • Shut off cooling units when not needed.

Kitchen and Laundry Practices

Simple changes that save significant amounts of water.

  • Turn off dishwashers when not in use. Wash full loads only.
  • Scrape rather than rinse dishes before washing.
  • Use water from steam tables to wash down cooking areas.
  • Do not use running water to melt ice or frozen foods.
  • Handle waste materials in a dry state whenever possible.
  • Wash only full loads of laundry.

Landscape Irrigation

Significant water consumption can occur during the growing season in some climates.
NOTE: During drought conditions, outdoor watering restrictions may be imposed and some of the following tips will not apply.

  • Detect and repair leaks in irrigation systems.
  • Use properly treated waste water or “gray water” for irrigation where available.
  • Water the lawn or garden during the coolest part of the day (early morning is best). Do not water on windy days.
  • Water trees and shrubs—which have deep root systems—longer and less frequently than shallow-rooted plants that require smaller amounts of water more often. Check with your local cooperative extension service for advice on watering needs in your area.
  • Adjust sprinklers to water the lawn or garden only—not the street or sidewalk.
  • Use soaker hoses or trickle irrigation for trees and shrubs.
  • Install moisture sensors on sprinkler systems.
  • Use mulch around shrubs and garden plants to reduce evaporation from the soil surface and to cut down on weed growth.
  • Remove thatch and aerate turf to encourage movement of water to the root zone.
  • Raise your lawn mower cutting height—longer grass blades help shade each other, cut down on evaporation, and inhibit weed growth.
  • Minimize or eliminate fertilizing, which promotes new growth that needs additional watering.

Other Outdoor Water Use

Additional outdoor water-saving measures.

  • Sweep or blow paved areas to clean, rather than hosing off.
  • When using a hose, control the flow with an automatic shut-off nozzle.
  • Wash vehicles less often—use a commercial car wash that recycles water.
  • Consider using newer, water-saving swimming pool filters.
  • Lower pool water level to reduce amount of water splashed out.
  • Use a pool cover to reduce evaporation when the pool is not being used.
  • Do not install or use ornamental water features unless they recycle the water. Use signs to indicate that water is recycled.

These suggested measures are not intended to supersede more stringent federal, state, tribal, or local health, safety, or environmental regulations.