Sick days and spreading germs are not the only problems that winter brings along. Energy expenses for office buildings, schools, and hospitals can become quite costly. This necessity cannot be eliminated; however, replacing a few appliances with energy-efficient models can help to decrease overall energy usage and counteract heating costs. Listed below are the lowest and highest amounts of energy that each type of institution devotes to heating their buildings and water. These numbers were determined by the United States Energy Information Administration and are based on the five major climate zones in the U.S.
- 5-12% of the total energy consumed is spent on heating water
- 54-71% of total energy consumed is spent on building heat
- 21-32% of the total energy consumed is spent on heating water
- 16-42% of the total energy consumed is spent on building heat
- 18-36% of the total energy consumed is spent on heating water
- 20-34% of the total energy consumed is spent on building heat
Understandably so, the colder regions are at the high end of these ranges and warmer ones tend to use less energy to stay warm. Nowadays, “being green” is becoming more popular among businesses and other institutions as facilities managers try to cut costs and reduce carbon footprints. No matter what the region though, savings can be achieved with a few simple restroom updates. The Occupational Safety and Health Association requires a specific number of water closets (toilet facilities that are maintained within a toilet room) based on how many people work within a building. Companies with 100 employees or fewer could need anywhere from 1 to 5 water closets per OSHA. In order for these restrooms to properly serve their populations, they must also have an appropriate number of sinks and hand dryers that corresponds to the number of toilets available in order to avoid crowding. As people visit the restroom anywhere from 4-10 times each day, energy-efficient updates can help to reduce overall energy costs.
One fixture that reduces both water and water-heating costs is a low-flow, automatic faucet. When these faucets are battery-powered and have standard thermostatic valves to heat the water without the use of gas, the need for gas-heated water in restrooms for hand washing is eliminated. As these appliances use 70% less water than a typical model, lower water costs can be achieved as well.
For electricity savings, an efficient, automatic air hand dryer that uses 80% less energy than a standard air hand dryer is a smart and simple update. A unit that provides greater air volume will give users quality hand drying, which means they may not have to repeat the process multiple times in order to completely dry their hands. As a bonus, this type of hand dryer also counts towards LEED credits.
Updating a few restroom fixtures can amount to savings that help to offset the costs of other utilities throughout the year. There are many ways that any building, large or small, can make itself greener and cut down on utility expenses. Restrooms are a smart place to begin, as there are opportunities to save on various resources, such as water, electricity, paper, and the chance to replace harsh chemicals with safer natural alternatives. The next time you need take a look at your facility’s costs, consider the savings than can be found in your bathrooms.