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How to Save Water and Significantly Lower Property Operating Expenses

Major metro areas nationwide are in the midst of a water crisis brought on by drought, aging water infrastructures, and other factors. The result is often skyrocketing water bills, which can significantly cut into the profits of landlords. Over the past decade, water bills in New York City have climbed up 200%.

While New York's price hikes may seem steep, it's not the only area where water costs are rising. In Chicago, there has been a 100% increase in the past five years, while some parts of Texas have experienced a 30% annual increase. Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Atlanta and other cities nationwide are facing even steeper hikes.

How to Save Water Without High Investment Costs

Implementing water-saving measures can dramatically reduce operating expenses. 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. Regular inspections are 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.

Other complimentary technologies could include faucet aerators and leak detection tablets. Landlords should assume that tenants may attempt to tamper with conservation technologies like low-flow fixtures. It will be crucial to invest in tamper-proof technologies to protect your investment and realize savings over time. Tamper-proof technologies can ensure that tenants don't prevent a return-on-investment.

Read our cases studies, showing how The Water Scrooge customers save an average of $500 per unit, per year.

Educate Tenants on Not Flushing Solids

Flushing solid waste, such as hygiene products or cigarette butts, can put a massive load on the plumbing infrastructure of older buildings. Up to 7 gallons of water may be wasted on each flush that contains solid debris, trash, or other forms of waste.

Landlords can combat this problem by charging tenants to fix clogs that are caused by solid waste. In addition, consider providing each unit with a bathroom wastebasket to capture solid waste products.

Perform Routine Leak and Drip Inspections

Routine leak and drip inspections can identify problems with shower heads, toilets, faucets, and taps. A trained expert can identify leaks in as little as 5-10 minutes using toilet tank detection tablets or other technologies.Property management experts report that, in many cases, residents are unlikely to inform landlords about known leak issues.

While leaks can have a significant impact on water bills, they don't necessarily have a negative effect on tenant experience. Many tenants simply ignore dripping faucets, and other leaks may go unnoticed. 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, as well as cause major physical damage to the property.

Drip inspections can also be coupled with the installation of low-cost water conservation technologies to minimize disruption to residents.

Monitor Monthly Billing Data

The EPA reports that 90% of residential leaks waste 90 gallons or more each day. 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 single-family residence in the U.S. uses approximately 90 gallons of water for irrigation each day. Changing your building's approach to landscaping irrigation could result in massive cost savings.

The easiest way to realize savings could be to simply reduce your watering schedule. Switching to plants which require less water can be another low-cost tool. If your multi-tenant 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, by trying out our free Multi-Family Property Savings Calculator.  

Download the Water Savings Guide 



is the founder and president of The Water Scrooge, which offers maintenance-free, tamper-proof water conservation tools to landlords and homeowners. The Water Scrooge is based in Lynbrook, N.Y.