Have you ever experienced the pleasure of using someone else's credit card?
Kinda nice, isn't it?
While you might normally go for a moderately priced red, tonight you'll have a bottle of the restaurant's finest. And while you're at it, why not get one of every appetizer?
This is exactly the kind of attitude many tenants have toward shower water usage. It's a fact of life—we spend others' money more freely than we do our own. But how much does this really matter when it comes to water bills? More than tenants probably realize.
During the 1990s, government officials were informed of something unsettling: Our nation's water and sewage infrastructure was in major need of repair, and it was going to cost big bucks! As such, water bills have steadily been on the incline ever since. And what was once thought of as a minor expense has sneakily added up to a significant profit-killer for landlords.
Who's Paying for Water?
The question has fostered fierce debate nationwide.
"The cost of water has been one of the biggest and most unpredictable operating expenses because utilities are responding to various federal mandates," said Eileen Lee, vice president of the National Multi Housing Council in Washington, as quoted by the Orlando Sentinel. "Many property owners have opted to install metering devices to monitor water consumption in a particular unit."
Landlords across the country have chosen to deal with the dilemma in different ways; some even making tenants responsible for their own water bills (hoping to inspire more conscientious attitudes toward water usage).
Unfortunately, the NYC jurisdiction still requires landlords to foot the bill.
Which begs the question: Just how much is tenant shower water usage costing landlords of multi-family buildings?
In this article, we'll explore some of those numbers before offering some highly effective cost-cutting solutions. OK...
Different studies cite different numbers. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average shower lasts eight minutes. Alternatively, Water Pik Inc's "Behind the Shower Curtain" study found women to average 14 minutes and men 12 minutes, respectively.
Still skeptical, we hopped on Reddit—a popular community-based social networking service—to find out what real people were saying about shower times. In the AskWomen forum, a user had posed the question: How long does an average shower/bath take you?
This person said she took 30 to 45-minute showers and wanted to know if that was indeed longer than normal. The discussion generated more than 60 responses.
Here are some of them unedited:
- "If I start singing, 30-45 min..."
- "If I have to shave my legs then it would be 30 minutes."
- "When I was in high school 45 minute showers were common."
- "I take two really long, deep cleaning showers which takes about 15-20 minutes. My quick rinses after work and the gym are 10-15 minutes."
- "About 45 minutes, including complex hair care of waist-length hair and removing excessive quantities of body hair and exfoliating my entire body and getting distracted and procrastinating and letting my mind wander and thinking of brilliant ideas that solve all my problems and I may or may not remember when I get out of the shower."
Though the majority of respondents stayed in the 10 to 15-minute range (which is still more than the previously referenced studies), a significant number fessed up to LONG showers.
According to City Utilities, the average monthly water usage for a family of four is 6,000 gallons. However, the organization is quick to point out that the individual habits are actually the larger cause of high usage, as opposed to familial size.
How Much Water Are They Using and How Much Is Does It Cost?Assuming a low-flow shower head with a water flow of 2.2 gallons per minute is being used, here are the numbers per shower:
- Someone who showers for 8 minutes uses 18 gallons of water.
- Someone who showers for 20 minutes uses 44 gallons of water.
- Someone who showers for 30 minutes uses 66 gallons of water.
- Someone who showers for 40 minutes uses 88 gallons of water.
Now, add those numbers up over the course of a year (assuming one shower a day for 52 weeks) and you get 6,652 gallons on the low end and 32,032 on the high end! If your units are still operating with standard shower heads (typically using more than 4 gallons per minute), you can double those.
In NYC water costs $9.87 per 100 cubic feet. Since there are 748 gallons per 100 cubic feet, one gallon of water costs $0.0132. That comes out to about $212 over the course of one calendar year for a 20-minute shower.
Remember, that's NOT counting energy usage to heat the water which can cost you between $0.005 - $0.02 per gallon!
While that may not seem like much, multiply that number by the average number of tenants living in 500 units and you're looking at an expense of $249,000 a year. CLICK HERE to do your own calculations.
Why Low-Flow Isn't Enough
As previously mentioned, using low-flow shower heads will significantly cut costs. However, there are many cheap low-flow fixtures on the market that either don't produce the results promised or are disliked by tenants.
What's to stop a tenant from unscrewing the low-flow head and changing it out for their own? And in doing so, doubling their water usage and subsequent billing costs?! Nothing.
Which is why The Water Scrooge tamper-proof shower regulators are doubly worth the investment.
At The Water Scrooge, we set out to create a tamper-proof regulator that truly goes "above and beyond." Not only are our regulators hidden from view and inaccessible to tenants, they also regulate water flow to as low as 1.5 gallons per minute—although we don't recommend setting the flow rate that far below the environmental standard.
Many have supposed reducing flow rates might cause tenants to just take longer showers. However, several studies have actually proven flow rate has little influence on shower duration (people still have the same amount of time in the day). Further, when coupled with our expertly designed spa shower head, your tenants will still enjoy a relaxing, good-pressured shower. In fact, many tenants report liking the shower even more after we have installed The Water Scrooge.
The Water Scrooge™ offers water conservation ways and products to multi-family landlords and homeowners, including: shower flow controllers, Leak Detection Systems, Toilet Leak Prevention Devices (The Toilet Scrooge™), water flow management devices (SMART Valve™), toilet calibration and DIY products.
Also featuring The Water Scrooge™ App. Our app empowers your team to carry out the installation of our kits. With it, you can also record and track data points about the units (other than water usage).