Tired of Flushing Your Dollars Down the Toilet?

8/28/2012 By Sam Cicero Sr.

Was your property built before 1993? If so, chances are you’re losing money with every flush and use of the sink and shower. After all, you can’t control your hotel guest’s use of utilities. However, you can control your operating costs, and through simple, environmentally friendly renovations to plumbing and electric, you can significantly lower expensive water/sewer and electric bills.

Let’s say that you have a 25-year-old, 100-room property with a 50 percent occupancy rate that hasn’t had any updates to toilets, shower heads, sink aerators or continuously operated common area lighting.

A guestroom toilet is flushed 15 times a day on average (between two guests and housekeeping), using up 52.5 gallons of water per day based on an older, 3.5 gallon-per-flush toilet. Multiply that by 365 days and by 50 rooms and that’s 958,100 gallons flushed away in a year. But if newer, 0.8 gallon-per-flush toilets are installed, the total is reduced to 219,000 gallons a year.

Head over to the shower, which is on for an average of 23 minutes a day by two guests and housekeeping. For an older shower head that uses three gallons per minute, that equates to 1,259,250 gallons in a year. By changing to a one gallon-per-minute flow, the total is now 419,750 a year, which prevents you from pouring your money down the drain.

More Savings at the Sink

Same goes for the hand sink. Two guests and housekeeping combine to use it an average of 12 minutes a day, which consumes 474,500 gallons per year based on an out-of-date, 2.2 gallon-per-minute sink aerator. A new one gallon-per-minute aerator cuts usage to 219,000 gallons in a year.

Add it all up, and three wise investments to each guest bathroom will save more than 1.8 million gallons of water each year, which is the definition of being eco-friendly.

And how does that affect your water bill? Factoring an average water rate of $6 per 1,000 gallons used and a sewer rate that is 85 percent of your water bill, a hotelier can be looking at a savings of just more than $20,000 per year, which would provide a return on your investment in less than three years.

Plus, this doesn’t include the energy used to heat water in the shower or sink, or the water used in lobby restrooms, kitchens/breakfast areas, and laundry facilities.

Addressing the interior lighting that runs all day long can also positively impact your bottom line.

For example, consider the difference if you switch from using antiquated 100 watt incandescent light bulbs to 11 watt LED bulbs. The usage cost (based on a rate of 12 cents per kilowatt hour) for one bulb drops from $105 to $12 a year, and the life expectancy of an LED bulb is 50 times longer.

LED Lighting Offers Huge Savings Potential

So, for an interior corridor hotel that has, say, 52 recessed can lights that are always on, the total cost, including usage and replacement, can be reduced from $9,464 to $1,248 a year by making the switch from incandescent to LED lighting.

And keep in mind, if you do make any of the above-mentioned improvements; be sure to inquire about any current federal, state, local and utility rebates or incentives that promote water conservation, renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Finally, shopping utility companies is also a smart way to cut down on expensive bills, as there is often more than one electric/energy and natural gas provider in a market. It’s usually free to change over and the savings can be thousands of dollars a year.

Investing in some simple renovations to plumbing and electric can positively affect your property from a financial and environmental perspective, helping you to become not only a greener hotel, but also have a greener bottom line.

Sam Cicero Sr. is the founder and president of Cicero’s Development Corp., a full-service renovations contractor for more than 40 years that specializes in the hotel industry. Cicero’s has an EPA Lead-Safe Certification for building renovations and repairs and is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council. Contact Sam at (866) 904-0141 or sjcicero@cicerosdev.com to learn more about their $ensible Green program, which offers a free, no-obligation water, lighting and natural gas review to help hotel owners identify and assess ways to save money.


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