5 ways to conserve a building's water during winter
One way to protect a building's pipes during extreme cold is to turn faucets to a drip. iStock photo
The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that the average person uses 80-100 gallons per day for everything from cooking, showering and flushing the toilet. In commercial settings, where groups on individuals work and congregate, usage skyrockets.
While there are a number of ways to integrate water conservation into one’s daily routine, here are five tips from green technology company WaterSignal for conservation during the winter months:
Insulate water pipes in unheated areas
When temperatures drop below freezing, pipes in unheated areas are subject to freezing causing messy, and often expensive issues. The most common pipe freezes occur on those that are exposed to frigid temperatures such as outdoor hose bibs, and water supply lines in unheated interior areas like basements, crawlspaces, and even kitchen cabinets. To reduce the likelihood of freezing, wrap water supply lines in unheated areas with insulation tubes made of polyethylene or fiberglass. For an extra layer of protection, apply heat-tape prior to wrapping pipes with insulation.
Drip your faucets
Contrary to popular belief, dripping faucets during freezing temperatures can actually save you money on water by acting as inexpensive insurance.
A recent study conducted by Huntsville Utilities in Alabama found that a dripping cold water faucet only uses 5 cents worth of water in eight hours.
If you know where the water comes into your building, pull water through the entire system by turning on faucets at the opposite end. By keeping the water moving, you greatly reduce the likelihood of freezing. For added conservation, collect the dripping water into a bucket or cup. You can use the collected water for watering house plants or flushing the toilet.
Check for leaks after first thaw
The drastic temperature changes between night and day during the winter cause pipes to expand and contract. As a result, when the thaw does come, pipes are likely to break above and below ground causing massive water loss and high utility costs. After the first thaw, have a plummer or a member of your maintenance staff walk the property to inspect water lines and ensure no leaks have occurred over the winter.
Locate your property shut-off valve
In the event of a catastrophic leak, knowing the location of your property shut-off valve could save you money on water and water damage repairs. The faster you can turn off the water, the less goes to waste.
Install a water monitoring system for 24-hour leak alerts and real-time data.
Water monitoring technology can continuously read the water meter and wirelessly sends real-time data to a website portal, allowing the property manager to view the property’s water consumption by month, day or even by hour.
If a major leak occurs, much like an energy surge popping a circuit breaker, the device immediately alerts the manager or engineer that a water spike above the preset limit has occurred. The alert can be sent to both a computer and a smartphone for the manager to act upon, and can be customized for business hours, as well as after hours and weekends.
Topics: Automation and Controls, Building Owners and Managers, Consulting - Green & Sustainable Strategies and Solutions, Energy Audit / Energy Management, Energy Saving Products, Interiors, Plumbing, Real Estate, Sustainable Communities, Technology, Water Saving Strategies and Devices, Weatherization