You are required to pay tenant water bills.
But that doesn't mean you have to sit by and watch your monthly bills skyrocket! Compared to other major cities, New York City water is pricey. This past July the rate increased 11 cents per cubic feet over the previous combined rate.
With the combined cost of water and sewer adding up to nearly $10 per one hundred cubic feet (ladies and gentlemen, we are now in the double digits), apartment water bills add up fast.
- You have a unit with 1,000 tenants.
- The average person uses 21,900 gallons a year.
- That translates to nearly 22 million gallons a year.
- That translates to approx. $295,000 a year.
How to Keep Tenant Water Bills Low
What if we told you that you have more control over tenant water usage than you may realize?
AND that you can discourage tenants from running up high water bills?
AND that it is highly possible you could reduce that last number by as much as 30 percent (with the right measures in place)? For the remainder of this article, we'll review X ways to minimize tenant water usage and keep costs down:
1. Community Education
Lowering tenant water bills begins with community education. While it is true your tenants will never care about building water conservation as much as you do, don't assume they won't care at all.
Customize informational packets to your overall building demographic. If you're serving lower-income families, consider emphasizing the fact that water usage does indirectly impact the cost of rent. Share exactly how much the cost of water has increased in recent years and explain how those costs affect community expenses and amenities.
Conversely, if the majority of your tenants are young professionals, approach your packet from an environmental standpoint. Highlight an array of interesting statistics that will motivate them to save. Most importantly, pair your packets with some sort of freebie that can serve as a reminder (i.e. refrigerator magnets, coffee mugs, recycling bins).
2. Tamper-Proof Shower Heads
Have you already outfitted your bathrooms with low-flow shower heads? Switching from older 4GPM to newer 2GPM fixtures was undoubtedly a step in the right direction. But it's not always enough.
Unbeknownst to landlords, tenants routinely replace your shower heads with their own upon move-in. This is all the more likely if you installed cheaper low-flow models that fail to provide "high-flow experiences."
While current legislative standards require shower heads to use no more than 2GPM, many manufacturers are still producing high-output models. Conversely, a tenant may already own favorite, old fixtures that move with them from place to place.
You can prevent this from happening by installing hidden, tamper-proof regulators. Our average multi-family building client sees a 30 percent reduction with this measure alone.
3. Wireless Toilet Monitoring
We know, it sounds like something out of The Jetsons. But you can now wirelessly monitor unit toilet activity from your smartphone.
Why would you want to do that? Because an estimated 1 in 5 toilets has a leak at any given time, according to the American Water Works Association. And because that can easily add up to $24,000 a year for a 100-unit building.
The Toilet Scrooge is an unobtrusive device that sits near a toilet's base, electronically transferring live information (i.e. fill cycles, flushes-per-day and times-of-day) an organizational database. Keep tabs on malfunctioning toilets, and you will fix small leaks before they become big ones.
4. Install Faucet Aerators
Bathroom and sink faucets account for 16 percent of home water usage. Though Federal Plumbing Standards now specify that kitchen faucets use no more than 2.5GPM, and bathroom faucets use no more than 2.2 GPM, many older apartment buildings are still equipped with 5GPM.
Considering many tenants run water while brushing teeth, checking email and engaging in several other tasks, landlords are advised to be proactive. Our company produces an inconspicuous, tamper-proof device that limits water flow to 1GPM.
5. Send Reminders
Finally, don't be afraid to periodically send friendly reminders. Changing a long-standing habit can be challenging. Especially, when that habit involves water usage.
- Post conservation flyers on community doors, windows and areas.
- Send a "thank you" email letting tenants know when their efforts have paid off.
- Partner with a local environmental group to provide free swag.
More Control Than You Realize
Ultimately, you have more control than you realize. By implementing any one of these tips, you can put a significant dent in your building's water bills.
Want to see some real numbers?
Browse our case studies to get an idea of how much you could save.