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Saving water in the workplace

Homes and businesses are being urged to be ‘water wise’ during this sustained spell of hot, dry weather, but everyday water efficiency can help small businesses to cut costs as well as consumption, says water retailer SES Business Water.

With the first hosepipe bans hitting the news, water wholesalers across the country are finding it a challenge to keep up with demand and pump water across their networks to homes and businesses. Small changes to save water in the workplace can make a big difference to keeping demand down, from the biggest to the smallest of clubs (with the added benefit, of course, that taking action to reduce water usage can also translate to lower bills).  

There are three simple steps any small business can take to cut consumption and costs: encourage efficiency, limit leaks, and switch to save. Spotting water saving opportunities can be simple: a running tap uses six litres of water a minute and using the half flush on the toilet saves 30 litres per person, per day. Encouraging staff to adopt water saving behaviour by placing posters and reminders next to sinks and in bathrooms can make a big difference. Small leaks can also add up to a lot of waste: for example, a tap dripping at one drop per second wastes 4,750 litres a year. Something as simple as repairing a tap washer can save £18 a year which can add up for businesses with multiple sinks or premises. Leaks aren’t always easy to spot. If a business’s consumption has increased and there’s no obvious reason for the rise (such as an expansion or an increase in staff numbers) then further investigation is wise to avoid paying for hidden leaks on premises or hidden underground.

Small businesses can also shop around to save costs: since April 2017, the non-domestic water market in England has been open to competition, meaning businesses don’t have to stick with their regional supplier. Switching can unlock better rates, allow businesses with multiple sites to consolidate their supplies into one simplified bill, and access better service. The UK water regulator Ofwat estimates that those businesses who have switched have collectively saved around £8 million on their bills by taking advantage of the open market  and saved up to 540 million litres of water through water efficiency measures instigated by switching accounts. However, small businesses are least likely to have switched: just 6% of small businesses in England switched water supplier in the first year of the nondomestic water market being open for competition, compared to 39% switching providers of other services such as energy, stationery, IT and pensions, according to research conducted by the company in April 2018 –59% admitted they weren’t aware that they were able to switch suppliers.

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