Water companies are in the crosshairs of the Government as pressure mounts around utility bills price rises – but we think that affordable water means using effective ways to cut consumption in businesses and homes.
All our data around household and business consumption over the past year has convinced us that the simple step of installing eco shower heads, eco taps and effective tap aerators drastically reduces the amount of water being used – by up to 50 per cent.
Remember that the shower generally accounts for half of water use, while taps running at full volume add significantly to annual costs.
While the energy companies have taken much flack over the past few weeks for their severe price increases, Owen Paterson has written to water company chiefs urging them not to add huge inflation-busting increases to their bills.
The Environment Secretary advised them by letter that it was “crucial” to keep bills affordable. Households face a 3.5% rise in water bills next year and, from recent experience, we know that the only way is up. Just this week, we have been warned that businesses and consumers in the UK will have to foot above-inflation bills for at least the next 17 years.
There is an argument for water metering as a means of giving people control over their bills. Southern Water is already compulsorily installing meters across Hampshire, Kent, Sussex and the Isle of Wight, with most expected to be charged in this way by 2015. Thames Water also plans universal metering.
Research by the Consumer Council for Water found that the annual bill for a typical family of four would increase from about £500 to £700 after installation. We assume that this is at current rates of consumption and so it makes perfect sense to start cutting consumption now.
At the same time, we know that people will fund two-thirds of infrastructure projects – adding £8,000 per household to typical bills.
Water projects, like sewer renovation and effluent management join green energy moves, and nuclear power station construction in the infrastructure mix, with a predicted cost of £208bn to be paid by businesses and consumers through their bills.
Despite the Government warning letter, water companies have been allowed to increase bills ahead of inflation to build new sewers, tackle leaks and meet EU requirements to clean up the effluent released into rivers and the sea. More of the same is scheduled under a formula allowing price increases above the general rate of inflation over five years.
It is interesting, then, that forward-thinking companies like Sainsbury’s are taking the lead in better water management. The retail giant’s Chief Executive Justin King has said that water is potentially the biggest environmental concern facing the food industry.
And we’re looking forward to the Corporate Water Risk Conference on January 21st in London where Philip Osborn, Sainsbury’s Head of Energy will advise how the supermarket chain has achieved a target of 50% relative reduction in water use. We know that these savings are achievable from our own experience of working with businesses.
For example, we have saved Puma Hotels more than £100,000 this year with the installation of eco shower heads, eco taps and tap aerators across the company’s 21 hotels in the UK. Consider that total investment was around £65,000 and you can see how quickly that is repaid.
We’re not forgetting the benefit to the planet, either, as installation of these water-saving solutions cuts carbon footprint substantially.
Why not talk to us about how you can cut bills and carbon footprint – just call 0845 123 5464 or you can email us to start the conversation.