Paul Millard, Technical manager at Water Regs UK, looks at some of the key ways to reduce water consumption and waste in healthcare facilities, while maintaining a safe and wholesome supply, as well as some of the potential pitfalls and unintended consequences if water-saving measures are not implemented with sufficient thought, care, and expertise.
The challenges in our changing climate, and rising energy costs, have seen people thinking much more about how to reduce their costs and water consumption. Many consumers underestimate their water use, and don’t understand how much water each appliance or various water fittings use. Saving water, of course, also saves money, as all non-households are metered, and can reduce energy consumption – whether it is for heating hot water, or pumping costs. Leaks can also be a costly addition to water bills. Thames Water’s smart metering insights showed that over 25% of water supplied to non-household customers was continuous flow, and may be leaking.1 In this article we’ll focus on options for reducing usage in a healthcare setting, the potential impacts, and, more importantly, how healthcare engineers can mitigate or avoid these risks
Taps: Let us consider the humble handbasin tap, since good hand hygiene is essential in healthcare. Traditionally these taps would have come only with a simple flow straightener in the spout outlet, or nothing at all, offering little to no water savings. On a system with a modest 2 to 3 bar pressure it would not be uncommon to see flow rates at around 15 litres per minute, and more when pressures are higher. This means the user would need to make the conscious decision to turn the taps down, or run the tap for less time, to make savings. Although a flow of 4 litres per minute should be sufficient for handwashing, on this ‘traditional-style’ tap, this will look visually inadequate.
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