Water use in toilets, showers and handbasins can often form a large component of total water use in commercial properties. Installing water efficient appliances and maintaining fixtures can be a very cost effective way to reduce water use.

General cleaning can account for up to 50% of your facility’s water use, depending on the industry. Ensuring your cleaning practices are water efficient is the efficient way to reduce this.

Here’s how:

  • Use a broom or mop to clean floors, instead of a hose (this will also reduce your discharge costs)
  • Use mops and wet/dry vacuum cleaners to prior to necessary wash downs
  • Sweep or use garden blowers on paved areas, instead of a hose
  • Use signage to remind staff of water efficient cleaning methods
  • Incorporate water efficient cleaning methods into work instructions
  • To gain support for water efficient behaviours be sure to outline the need and reasons for change, for example to reduce water and energy use, which will achieve financial and environmental benefits.

Toilets and urinals can account for up to 40% of your facility’s water use. Making sure they are water efficient will save you water and money.

Fix leaking toilets

By fixing 1 leaking toilet, you can save around 9,000 litres of water a year. If you have leaky toilets, that’s a massive saving across your business.

Here’s how to check:

 

Install dual flush toilets

Install WELS 4 star water efficient dual flush toilets, on average they use less than 4 litres per flush, that's over 65% less water than older models.

If you already have a dual flush toilet, display signage or stickers to encourage staff and customers to use the half flush.

Search for WELS 4 star dual flush toilets

 

Can’t upgrade right now?

If you can’t install an efficient toilet right away, here are some alternatives:

  • Reduce flush volume in single flush toilets by installing a cistern weight or converter, it will stop the water flow as soon as you take your finger off the button.
  • Save up to 1 litre per flush by modifying the float arm or installing a displacement device, such as a plastic bottle filled with pebbles and water – this will reduce the volume of water in the cistern. Remember to check the toilet bowl functions as required when using this method.
  • Some pans with an 11 litre single flush cistern may work with a replacement 6/3 litre (6 litre full flush and 3 litre half flush) dual flush cistern. Please check with the manufacturer prior to making the change.
  • Fit a hand basin conversion kit to the top of your toilet cisterns – they use grey water from the basin to flush the toilet.
  • If you have a flusherette system, insert a flow control regulator into the valve body to reduce the flow rate by up to 30%.

When combined with an efficient urinal, automated flushers can reduce water use by up to 50%.

Automated flushers, also known as smart controls, provide optimal flushing frequency without compromising hygiene. They can be set to operate a pre-set number of times throughout the day or after a pre-set number of users. Smart controls are particularly well suited to high traffic facilities and should reflect facility operating hours.

If you’ve already have automatic flushers, check timing cycles and volumes to make sure water isn’t being wasted through excessive flushing.

Please check with your plumber or plumbing hardware supplier to see if smart controls are suitable for your facility.

Choose WELS 3 star or higher

Water efficient urinals use 30% less water than inefficient models. When upgrading, look for models that use around 1.5 litres per flush or less.

No flush or low flush urinals may be suitable for your facility. Please check with your plumber.

Search for WELS 3 star urinals

 

Check for leaks

Repairing just 1 leaking urinal can save up to 73,000 litres of water each year.

To check for leaks put a few drops of food colour into the urinal cistern. Without flushing, look for dye coloured water leaking into the urinal. If it is getting through you have a leak and need to contact a plumber.

Installing low flow taps reduces flow rate by up 50%, the payback period is just 4 months.

Choose low flow taps

Choose taps with built-in flow restriction devices. They are an excellent way to reduce water use, especially in high traffic areas, such as change rooms and shared facilities.

 

Recommended flow rates:
  • Taps used to fill baths and sinks – 9 litres per minute
  • Taps used for hand washing – 1.5 litres per minute
Payback scenario

This calculation is based on replacing 1 typical hand basin tap (20L/min) with a WELS 6 star low flow tap (3.5L/min) and demonstrates the savings associated with reduced water and sewer charges and the payback period for the cost of the upgrade.

Calculation: litres/minute x 0.25 minutes (15 seconds) x 80 uses/day x 5 days x 50 weeks

Table showing the potential savings by installing a WELS 6 star low flow tap
Flow rate Water Sewer Total water &
sewer charges
Water use
(kL)
20 L/min $206 $286 $492 100 kL
3.5 L/min $36 $50 $86 17.5 kL
Savings $406 123.75 kL
Upgrade cost $250  
Payback period = ($250/$406) x 12 months 7.4 months  

For a facility with 10 taps, this represents a saving of 1,237 kilolitres and over $6,000 annually! The savings increase even further, when you factor in reduced hot water energy costs.

Find WELS 6 star taps

 

When choosing your low flow taps consider:

  • Quarter turn taps with ceramic seats – they provide greater flow control and are less prone to leaks
  • Fixed flow taps - such as push-button taps deliver a fixed quantity of water
  • Spring-loaded taps - shut off when user lets go
  • Infrared sensor taps – turn on when motion is detected and deliver a fixed quantity of water

Spring loaded taps, push button taps or infrared sensor taps are best suited for public amenity areas, such as change rooms, where taps can be left running.

Install a flow regulator

A flow regulator, which regulates the flow of water to a predetermined flow rate, may be a good alternative to installing new taps at your facility.

How to choose a flow regulator

Flow regulators include tap outlet aerators, tap inserts, in-line regulators and trigger operated nozzles.

  • Tap aerators – reduce flow rate by up to 50% by adding air to the flow stream. The spray-like flow maintains washing effectiveness and reduces splashing. It most cases it's the easiest way to upgrade your existing taps as the aerator is connected to the tap outlet.
  • Flow restrictors – reduce flow rate by up to 50% and they are fitted within your existing plumbing on the connecting pipe under your sink taps. Flow restrictors reduce the amount of water that passes through the pipe and are a low-cost alternative to replacing your existing fixtures with low-flow taps.
  • Trigger hose nozzles – they use less water and deliver a high pressure stream at a regulated flow rate and shut off when the trigger is released. To further increase water savings, dry sweep the area first and use the hose as a final rinse.
  • Food service trigger hose nozzles – provide a spray pattern specifically designed to remove food scraps with little water and shut off when the trigger is released.

Your plumber can advise on the most suitable device for your business.

Repair leaking taps

Repairing just 1 dripping tap can save up to 20,000 litres of water each year. Worn washers are the most common causes of leaks. If you have a leak, contact a Waterwise Plumber.

Replacing showerheads with WELS 3 star rated models or better can reduce the flow rate by over 50%. It’s an easy and inexpensive way to save water and in most cases, the payback period is under 12 months.

Shower use is generally controlled by the user, so a water efficient showerhead will achieve the greatest savings. Further reduce water use with timers or spring loaded push button shower taps, so that water turns off automatically.

Check out this video for handy tips that will help reduce shower water use.

 

The user’s perception of shower quality is an important consideration, when retrofitting your site remember to let your staff and customers know about the changes and the reasons you are making them.

Search for WELS 3 star showerheads

 

Maintenance

  • Regularly check for dripping showerheads and signs of leaks around taps
  • Repair leaks and faults as quickly as possible minimise water loss

Replacing showerheads with WELS 3 star models or better can reduce the flow rate by over 50%.

It’s an easy and inexpensive way to save water and in most cases the payback period will be less than a year!

 

Payback scenario

This calculation is based on replacing 5 high flow showerheads (19L/min) with WELS 3 star showerheads (9L/min) and demonstrates the savings associated with reduced water and sewer charges and the payback period for the cost of the upgrade.

Calculation: litres/minute x 5 mins x 10 showers/day x 5 days x 50 weeks

Table showing the potential savings from insrtalling WELS 3 star showerheads
Flow rate Water
$2.06/kL
Sewer
$3.01/kL
discharge factor 95%
Total water &
sewer charges
Water use
(kL)
19 L/min $489 $679 $1168 237.5 kL
9 L/min $232 $322 $554 112.5 kL
Savings $200,000   $614 125 kL
Upgrade cost $500  
Payback period = ($500/$614) x 12 months 9.8 months  

For a facility with 10 showers, this represents an annual saving of 1,250 kilolitres and over $6,000. The savings increase even further, when you factor in reduced hot water energy costs.

Search for WELS 3 star showerheads

 

The user’s perception of shower quality is an important consideration, when retrofitting your site remember to let your staff and customers know about the changes and the reasons you are making them.

Other things to consider in your shared facility

  • Timer or sensor showers for areas where the shower is intended as a wash down (e.g. beach or aquatic centre)
  • Regularly check for dripping showerheads and signs of leaks around taps
  • Repair leaks and faults as quickly as possible minimise water loss