Low Flow Plumbing Fixtures

Being a business owner or manager, chances are you’re always on the lookout for ways to reduce operating costs. As a result, many companies focus on reducing their electric bills through upgrades such as zoned HVAC systems, LED lighting, and energy-efficient windows.

But did you know that you can cut another major utility bill with minimal effort and expense?

The savings, ranging from 30% – 50%, are immediate; and your business won’t require another upgrade for several decades. Yes, today we’ll discuss the benefits of low-flow plumbing fixtures, and their impact on your operating costs.

What Are Low-Flow Plumbing Fixtures?

As the name implies, low-flow plumbing fixtures use substantially less water than their traditional counterparts: faucets, toilets, shower heads, and even dishwashers, too.

Many business owners assume that their existing plumbing fixtures are low flow since the Energy Policy Act took effect (1994 for residential buildings, 1997 for commercial buildings) nearly three decades ago. Unfortunately, the average age of a US commercial building is 53 years, meaning that low-flow plumbing fixtures were not an option during the original construction.

This Energy Policy Act includes the federal requirement that all new toilets must use no more than 1.6 GPF (Gallons Per Flush). Some drought-stricken states, like California and Texas, require that new toilets meet high-efficiency standards of 1.28 GPF, to conserve even more water. Since you’re already wondering, most older toilets use between 3.5 to 7 GPF. Here in the US, the average faucet and showerhead have a flow rate of 2.2 GPM (Gallons Per Minute), compared to 1.5 GPM for the low-flow options. Depending on the manufacturer, most low-flow faucets and showerheads use either a restrictor or aerator to reduce the water flow during usage.

Low-flow dishwashers are yet another option to reduce water usage. These units typically use no more than 4 gallons for a wash cycle, compared to 15 gallons for older models, and 27 gallons for washing dishes by hand.

US Commercial Water Usage

Below we’ve assembled the estimated daily water usage rates for several different industries and services for comparison purposes.

Service/Industry Daily water usage
Motels 100 gallons per unit/suite
Barber shops 55 gallons per chair
Beauty salons 270 gallons per chair
Resorts 35 gallons per person
Factories (without a shower) 25 gallons per employee each shift
Factories (with a shower) 35 gallons per employee each shift
Average restaurant 70 gallons per seat
24-hour restaurant 100 gallons per seat
Hospitals 250 gallons per bed
Retirement homes 100 gallons per bed
Office buildings 20 gallons per employee
Stores 400 gallons per bathroom
Movie theatres 2 gallons per seat
Service stations 10 gallons per vehicle

If you own an office building with 100 employees, that gives you an estimated usage of 2,000 gallons per day, or 60,000 gallons per month. Upgrading to low-flow faucets, toilets, and showerheads could cut your daily usage from 30-50%.

At 30%, that reduces your water usage by 18,000 gallons each month.

And at 50%, that works out to a 30,000-gallon reduction each month.

Commercial Water Rates

Water costs vary dramatically across the United States, as shown in the following chart. In Phoenix, the average cost for a cubic meter of water is $0.96, while San Francisco checks in at $6.07 per cubic meter.1

City Average cost (per cubic meter)
San Francisco $6.07
Indianapolis $5.17
Seattle $4.60
Los Angeles $3.79
Tucson $3.31
Boston $3.10
New York $2.00
Dallas $1.25
Phoenix $0.96

For comparison purposes, one cubic meter of water converts to 264 gallons.

Going back to our office building example from above, let’s plug in the 60K gallon  (227 cubic meters) estimate and see what happens.

City Average cost (monthly)
San Francisco $1,377.89
Indianapolis $1,173.59
Seattle $1,044.20
Los Angeles $   860.33
Tucson $   751.37
Boston $   703.70
New York $   454.00
Dallas $   283.75
Phoenix $   217.92

Your zip code has a lot to do with your water rates. As you can see, Tucson and Phoenix are only separated by just over 100 miles, but Tucson businesses pay 300% more for the same tap water.

Learn More About Low Flow Plumbing Fixtures

If your commercial building was built after 1997, you most likely already have low-flow toilets in place. Most low-flow toilets can be identified by a 1.6 GPF or 1.28 GPF stamp inside the toilet tank, or on the toilet bowl.

To check your faucets and showerhead typically involves removing the fixture and looking for the flow rate stamp on the underside of the device.

As you can see, reducing your water usage can lead to immediate and long-term savings no matter what type of business you own.

Of course, we’re ready to answer any other questions you might have regarding:

  • Low flow toilets
  • Low flow faucets
  • Low flow showerheads
  • Low flow dishwashers
  • Remodeling
  • New Construction

Simply contact the MaintenX Plumbing Division, and ask the low-flow plumbing fixture experts.

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