Making Sense of Water Use

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which runs the ENERGY STAR® system, cares about water.   The EPA water portal, WaterSense, gives practical advice to help businesses and homeowners use water more intelligently.

While there is not yet a national benchmarking system for water used in commercial buildings, the Portfolio Manager web tool allows you to track water use.  The Energy Stewards® web platform does, too.   You can manage water records in Energy Stewards or Portfolio Manager; we’ll synch up your records.    Your building’s monthly water use shows up on the Detail Graphs Page in Energy Stewards.

One issue with water bills in many parts of the country:  the bill covers three, six or even 12 months.  This is not very useful for tracking improvements and identifying issues but you can still learn some things from your data.  Energy Stewards allocates bills that are longer than a full month by averaging–a three month bill’s totals are converted into a use per day and then each month (say June, with 30 days) gets assigned a proportional amount of use (30 days x average water use/day.)

Here’s an Energy Stewards picture of the water use at a church that has a 90 day billing cycle for water:

The water use appears to be consistent from the 2nd quarter of 2009 through the middle of 2011.   Then there’s a small step up in 3rd quarter of 2011 and a larger step up.    The change in water use is about 6000 gallons a month, about 200 gallons a day.

The EPA WaterSense site says that 200 gallons a day can come from one leaking toilet!   Check out the tips from EPA here.   They’re promoting “fix a leak” week in March–the actions on the EPA site are ready to use in an Energy Stewards Action Table, too.

PS The facilities leader at the church saw the bump up in the chart and now has started his detective work.   We’ll post his story when he gets to the bottom of the mystery.

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