3 min read
How to Save Water and Significantly Lower Property Operating Expenses
David Schwartz Feb 5, 2020 9:30:00 AM
New York, along with other major metro areas nationwide, is at risk for a water shortage crisis brought on by drought, aging water infrastructures, and other factors. The result is skyrocketing water bills, which can significantly cut into the profits of landlords and property owners. Indeed, over the past fifteen years, water rates in New York City have climbed by more than 200 percent.
However, just because water rates are climbing doesn’t mean that landlords are powerless. In fact, there are many things you can do to reduce your water bills.
How to Save Money & Water Without High Investment Costs
Implementing water-saving measures can dramatically reduce property management expenses and water costs. However, some approaches to water conservation simply won't be feasible due to building infrastructure or limited budgets. In this blog, you'll learn about several different approaches to water conservation that don't break the bank.
Install Low-Cost Water Conservation Technologies in Units
Low-cost water conservation technologies can result in significant return-on-investment for landlords without sacrificing tenant happiness. Shower flow regulators and toilet tank fill cycle diverters can have a noticeable impact on savings. Of course, when you choose these options, regular inspections will be necessary to ensure that your toilets are actually flushing at the desired flush rate, because internal parts can wear out over time. The best flow regulators, when coupled with spa shower heads, do not significantly reduce tenant comfort, and in many cases, tenants prefer it.
Complementary technologies include faucet aerators and leak detection tablets. Landlords should assume that tenants may attempt to tamper with conservation technologies like low-flow fixtures - therefore, it’s crucial to invest in tamper-proof technologies to protect your investment and realize savings over time. Tamper-proof technologies ensure that tenants don't prevent a return-on-investment.
Read our case studies, showing how The Water Scrooge customers save an average of $500 per unit, per year.
Educate Tenants on Proper Toilet Use
Flushing solid waste, such as hygiene products or cigarette butts, can put a massive strain on the plumbing infrastructure of older buildings. To combat this, landlords can print pamphlets or send monthly reminders that solid debris should not be flushed. But rather than appeal to your tenants’ sense of saving money, appeal to their practical side - if solids are flushed, your toilet will likely get clogged and overflow. No tenant will want to deal with that!
As an accompaniment to your reminders, you can provide each unit with a bathroom wastebasket to capture solid waste products.
Perform Routine Leak and Drip Inspections
If you want to find out how to reduce expenses in property management, it may sound funny to recommend routine leak and drip inspections. However, what you spend on these routine inspections can actually save you money in the long run. Routine inspections can identify problems with showerheads, toilets, faucets, and taps, and a trained expert can identify leaks in as little as 5-10 minutes using toilet tank detection tablets or other technologies.
While leaks can have a significant impact on your water bill, they don't necessarily have a negative effect on tenant experience. Many tenants simply ignore dripping faucets or don’t even notice that their toilet is running. For even minor drips and leaks, the cost can add up to hundreds of dollars per year for each leak. For more severe leaks, that cost can skyrocket and cause major physical damage to the property.
Drip inspections can be coupled with the installation of low-cost water conservation technologies to minimize disruption to residents.
Monitor Monthly Billing Data
The EPA reports that the average household's leaks can account for nearly 10,000 gallons of wasted water every year, and 10 percent of homes have leaks that waste as much as 90 gallons or more per day. And those are just the statistics for one household - imagine how those numbers multiply when you’re the landlord of a hundred apartments!
How can you discover leaks and prevent water waste and exorbitant bills? Sudden spikes in water consumption can indicate toilet tank leaks, washing machine issues, irrigation malfunctions, or other problems. In many cases, these issues can be fixed relatively easily to facilitate massive savings.
By reviewing your monthly water billing data, you may be able to identify issues that have gone undetected by residents or your maintenance team. If your water utility provider's option for month-over-month review is limited, consider an Excel spreadsheet or low-cost software to identify unusual patterns.
Revise Your Landscaping Procedures
While many buildings in NYC and other major metro areas have minimal landscaping, there is enormous potential for water savings on routine irrigation. The average American family uses 320 gallons of water per day, and 30 percent of that goes toward outdoor use. That’s nearly 100 gallons going toward outdoor water use, and about half of that is used to water lawns and gardens. . Changing your building's approach to landscaping irrigation could result in massive cost savings.
The easiest way to realize savings could simply be to reduce your watering schedule. Switching to plants that require less water can be another low-cost tool. If your multi-tenant real estate property has a large green outdoor space, it may be worthwhile to check into rainwater collection technology, soil moisture monitors, "smart" irrigation systems that respond to weather data, and other advanced methodologies
Significantly Lower Operating Costs Per Unit
Saving water doesn't need to require massive remodeling efforts on multi-family properties. Many landlords are surprised to learn that effective options are cheaper and easier than they ever thought possible. With water conservation technologies, smarter landscaping, and other low-cost tactics, you may be able to significantly dial back your utility bills.
Let The Water Scrooge provide more details on how much money you can save - check out our free Multi-Family Property Savings Calculator.