As published in The Beast magazine - Oct 2016
Ever had the feeling money flows through your hands like water? If you haven’t fixed your leaks or installed water-saving appliances in your apartment, you may be literally pouring money down the drain. With three-quarters of our local population living in units, that’s a lot of wet dosh.
Contrary to popular belief, it’s not a block’s pool or large gardens that are the thirsty culprits. ‘Most people are surprised when they find that over 85 percent of all water used in an apartment building is used within individual apartments (not common facilities),’ says Andre Boerema of Sydney Water.
The good news is that it’s often easier to save water in apartments than houses, with significant consumption cuts for the whole building. A recent review of 30 apartment buildings in the City of Sydney showed the potential to reduce apartment buildings’ water use by 25 per cent.
Strata owners enjoy reduced bills (i.e. less money down the drain), which may mean reduced rents for tenants, according to Christine Byrne of not-profit organisation GreenStrata. You’re also kicking goals for our environment by reducing pressure on dams and rivers, plus cutting carbon emissions from less energy used for heating and pumping water. With apartments accounting for 30 per cent of water use across the Eastern Suburbs, there’s plenty to gain.
Ok, so how do I reap the benefits?
According to water efficiency engineer Adam Jones of BMT WBM, repairing leaks, reducing flow of water efficient showerheads taps provide the easiest wins, with the bonus of energy bills savings.
Byrne’s previous apartment block saved 20 percent on water consumption when the owner’s corporation organised a bulk change in showerheads and flow restrictors in all units, with Sydney Water’s Waterfix program. Cost savings total $11,500 each year.
So with National Water Week on our doorstep in October, it’s a good time for making water-wise apartment living second nature. Here are three good places to start.
Showers account for half of all water used in apartments. Install water-efficient showerheads or flow controllers, sourced from local hardware stores. Of course, shorter showers always help – three-four minutes or the length of your favourite song (excluding Bohemian Rhapsody).
Fit tap aerators and flow controllers to your existing taps to reduce water use by more than half. If in the market for new taps, choose new 3-star models, including lever, mixer and quarter-turn styles. They use about half the amount of water as a standard tap.
Fixing leaks is a simple sure-fire way to slash consumption. One leaking toilet can waste up to 250,000 litres per month! “Hard to spot toilet leaks are among the most common repairs we make”, says Boerama of Sydney Water.
Tell us if/how you have saved water in your apartment block, and what challenges you overcame.