water consumption

Tips to cut the water bill at your hotel

Water…it’s one of the areas where some big savings can be made in your hotel. And you do not need to spend a lot of money to do it. Hotels which are not water efficient can reduce their water use by over 50% in many cases. By effectively managing your water use you can promote your commitment to sustainability to your guests, reduce your local impact and save money.

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How is this possible? By not paying for what you do not use

Introducing a new culture of managing water consumption can result in significant gains. If you start to monitor how much water your hotel uses, you might detect that you have a hidden leak or a part of the installation needs urgent maintenance. Once you are sure that everything works correctly, monitoring on a regular basis will let you discover any problem that has arisen well before it adds a digit or two to your water bill.

Water leaks can be responsible for huge amounts of wasted water. A leaking toilet can lose 750 litres of water per day, while a dripping tap can drip 70 litres a day down the drain. In large hotels, leaking taps can increase water consumption by 5%.

Even small leaks can waste a significant amount of water over time. One drip per second, it seems like nothing but will add up to 4 litres lost each day, or 1460 litres if left for a year.

The main areas for water use in hotels are guest bathrooms, kitchens, laundry and communal toilet facilities. Even your staff play a part, with the average office worker using 16 litres of water daily – an amount that can be reduced without affecting their tasks or their comfort.

How to keep an eye on your water use.

Monitoring and benchmarking your water use is the first step to improving your water efficiency. This assessment of the baseline will allow you to know how you use water and measure the result of any changes you make. At a basic level, you can determine your baseline by recording your annual water consumption and comparing it to the number of guest nights. If possible, do it on a monthly or fortnightly basis and you will have a much finer grasp of changes.

Monitoring will allow you to ‘see’ your savings while showing up any unexplained increases in use – this is a sign that you may have an undetected leak.

Develop and follow a water management plan. A plan will allow you to set specific goals for reducing your water use, measured by litres per guest night. Eliminating leaks and monitoring will immediately reduce your litres per guest night, giving you a great platform for moving forward with further reduction efforts.

Daily checks and reporting by housekeeping. Your housekeeping staff are the ones most likely to come across leaking toilets and dripping taps so should be looking out for these leaks as part of their daily tasks. A system for written or electronic reporting, regularly checked by maintenance staff, should be established.

Kitchen staff should follow the same procedure for water leaks and drips discovered in your kitchen area.

Periodic inspections to detect hidden leaks. Your maintenance staff should carry out periodic inspections on all areas and systems where leaks may occur, including:

  • Pipe joints
  • Appliances
  • Heat exchange units.

An easy way to detect if there are hidden leaks is by checking the water meter a time (e.g. during hotel closure or in the middle of the night during the off-peak period) when there is no water use at all (all taps are closed, no water using appliance is on). If the meter keeps running, water is flowing somewhere, perhaps right into the ground or into the wastewater discharge. To know how considerable the hidden leaks are, you can read the meter again after an hour and multiply by 24 hours and 365 days to know how much you are wasting in a year.

An audit of water-using equipment can be used to identify possible ways to reduce water use through each appliance.

Sub-metering in large water-use areas, such as kitchens and pools, can be effective in larger hotels for getting a greater insight of how water is being used, or wasted, throughout your hotel.

Water conditioning in hard water areas can reduce the chance of pipe leaks by reducing the calcification and mineralisation which may occur in pipes and fittings, in addition to the benefits to your guests.

Check water pressure to avoid excess pressure. Adjust your water pressure where possible to the minimum required for the different uses. Excess water pressure can cause pressure on pipes and pipe joints, leading to leaks, and can encourage much more water being used unnecessarily by staff, guests and appliances. In some appliances, excess water through high pressure will feed straight to an overflow system and be wasted.

Once you get started with your initial audit and implement checks and immediate repairs into your staff duties, you should quickly get on top of any issues you have with your water systems, and will no longer have to watch your hard-earned money flushed down the drain.

Encourage your staff to monitor and report drips and leaks. Encourage them to take ownership of the issue in their area of responsibility and encourage them to share your hotel’s commitment to sustainability with your guests.

Source: takeagreenstep.eu

Water is not cheap, it is invaluable

A bit more than a year ago , the International Tourism Partnership (ITP) launched the Hotel Water Measurement Initiative (HWMI) to support the hotel sector towards consistent measuring and reporting of its water use. HWMI is now used by more than 12,000 properties, which is very encouraging news for water stewardship progress in the hotel sector.


The launch of HWMI was a collective step of 18 hotel companies towards better measurement and benchmarking of their water use, which will pave the way for ambitious and thorough water stewardship policies. As the severity of water risk is increasing worldwide (see which countries will be the most water-stressed in 2040 here), ITP’s Programme Manager, Nicolas Perin, asks what challenges lay ahead for hotels to play their part?

“Water is cheap”. ITP stakeholder dialogue events and discussions from the recent BITC Smart Water Knowledge Swap event have all confirmed that the low price of water is still one of the main obstacles preventing more significant investment in water programmes. It is, unfortunately, easier to convince a board or CFO to invest capital expenditure in projects that will reduce carbon emissions than on water projects. Low carbon and energy efficiency projects not only benefit from wide public awareness and support, they also have a much shorter payback period due to the rising price of energy worldwide. Few investments are made if they exceed the 3 year-payback timeline: they simply won’t be considered. This is the case for many potential corporate water initiatives. But the cost of water goes beyond the modest numbers on a utility bill.

Here are 6 reasons to value water more than it costs:

1) Water costs are exponential in times of drought

Recent droughts in Rome and California are grim reminders of the impact that water shortages can have on local hotels and communities. In California, the six years of recent and still ongoing drought cost consumers $2.4 billion in higher power costs and led to an 8% increase in carbon dioxide emissions from the state’s power plants as they turned to natural gas to make up shortfalls in hydropower.

2) Less water use means smaller energy costs

Improving water efficiency leads to smaller water bills but can also considerably impact energy consumption. BITC’s Smart Water Report highlights several examples of companies saving up to 50% of their water-related energy costs when improving recycling and treatment systems.

3) Water treatment costs can be considerable

The discharge of wastewater without adequate treatment can lead to pollution of local water bodies, and decrease the attractiveness of tourism destinations. In particular, eutrophication can directly affect the potential value of adjacent hotels. Academic studies suggest that leisure and residential properties can be devalued by as much as 25% as a result of consistently poor water quality (Wood and Handley, 1999).

Research done by Megan Epler Wood and her team at Harvard Extension School and published this year in “Sustainable Tourism on a Finite Planet” shows that preventing water pollution can also bring economic opportunities for hoteliers. Hotel properties who invested in innovative treatment levels such as constructed wetlands managed to treat their waste water at a lower cost both in the short term (those systems cost 50% less than conventional systems to install and operate) and the long term. The payback periods of such systems were between 2 and 3 years for a 350 rooms property through avoiding local sewer and water fees (representing over $650,000 annual savings).

4) Tourism relies on water to attract

Water pollution can also cause more indirect costs to the tourism economy. The US Environmental Protection Agency highlights that the tourism industry loses close to $1 billion each year through losses in fishing and boating activities in polluted water bodies. The industry can also suffer economic damages when the availability and productivity of local staff are affected by illnesses due to poor water sanitation. A study of the economic impacts of sanitation in Cambodia shows that drinking water access can have an economic cost up to $94 million annually.

5) Investors expect good water stewardship

There is a growing movement towards transparency on corporate water practices, which takes shape every year through the CDP report on water disclosure. Investors managing more than $64 trillion in assets expect companies to better manage water risk. In the latest report, more than a quarter of companies reported detrimental impacts from water on their business in 2016. They suffered $14 billion of water-related impacts, 5 times more than in 2015.

6) Water is not just an environmental issue

The water crisis has snowballing impacts on a global scale, beyond the direct cost to businesses. They are closely intertwined with effects of climate change, causing conflict and large-scale human migration (see an excellent article and studies from the World Resource Institute). With war and migration come many other risks to human rights, such as forced labour and human trafficking, which businesses worldwide are expected to address in their operations and supply chain. The International Tourism Partnership works with its members on addressing all these issues, in which water stewardship plays a central role.

Source: Green Hotelier