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HPM September 2017

16 G R E E N C OMME N T More than just a drop in the ocean David Spragg, of Xylem Water Solutions, discusses what needs to be done about water conservation and explains how plumbers, installers and manufacturers can lead the change in It’s tempting to dismiss a lack of safe drinking water as “someone else’s problem”. After all, this is Britain, where an umbrella isn’t an accessory but a necessity, and there are over 50 different ways to describe the rain. If anything, many would argue that we are burdened with too much water, whether it’s floods, giant Geordie puddles or the Daily Express’s latest doom-filled, weather-related prophecy. We’re also lucky to have effective sewerage systems and tap water that is safe and free of contaminants. Nevertheless, access to safe drinking water is something that concerns us all, and it’s something we need to stop taking for granted. Fresh and safe to drink According to National Geographic, only 2.5% of the world’s water is fresh and safe to drink, and only one per cent of that is easily accessible. Even supplies of safe water can be jeopardised by evaporation or contamination caused by parasites, harmful chemicals or livestock. This isn’t just a problem for the developing world – it’s a problem for us too. As a society, our habits speak volumes about the way we view water. According to Waterwise, the average UK homeowner uses approximately 150 litres of water a day. Some countries use much more than this. We also take an arguably relaxed attitude towards our water infrastructure – the giant fatbergs found in sewers in London are a case in point. With this in mind, the plumbing industry, as well as installers and manufacturers, have an uphill struggle to reduce wastage, with the problems above covering only the tip of the fatberg. Nevertheless, change is coming, and the right tools and education can make even the most trigger-happy tap user re-evaluate their water use for both short and long-term gain. Changes to water and infrastructure are already taking effect, and it’s heartening to see the general public, as well as industry, become more aware of the tools and technology that can help to reduce water and energy wastage. “Simple actions such as switching off the tap as we brush our teeth, to using leftover drinking or bath water to water the plants, can make a big difference, not only to our water and energy consumption, but also to our bills” Toilets, for example, have come a long way since Sir John Harington first theorised the development of a flushing chamber pot for Queen Elizabeth I, but it’s only in the last few years that they have achieved higher levels of efficiency. According to Waterwise, traditional flush systems use 13 litres of water per flush, whereas their more modern counterparts use less than a third of that amount. Installing modern toilets is a great way of saving your customers money, without needing any significant change in habit or daily routine. For multi-occupancy accommodation like apartments, flats and student housing, variable speed drives (VSD) are an effective way to increase efficiency and reduce water wastage. Known as a “plug and play” solution, VSDs are fitted to traditional water booster sets to modify the flow and power of water, depending on where it is used and what it is needed for. Traditional water boosters operate at a fixed speed, which means the same energy is used in one shower on the fourth floor, as it is for five people to shower across the whole apartment block where a VSD is fitted. In fact, water conservation and energy efficiency are two sides of the same coin, and conserving one means conserving the other. This is most relevant to our use of hot water, which often comes at a significant carbon cost. Over the last few years, UK government has passed legislation, such as the Building Regulations 2010, to encourage more efficient practices surrounding the building of new homes and the renovation of existing ones. These changes specifically affect plumbers, installers and manufacturers. For many, the prime target for achieving a more energy efficient home is often the boiler, and there have already been improvements to their designs and functionalities, which make them more efficient than ever. Circulator pumps are another aspect of the modern boiler that are generating significant savings for domestic residents. In many cases, consumers can save up to 80% of electricity costs. Global warming will make our access to potable water more difficult for both the developed and the developing world. That said, we do have it in our power to avoid a future water crisis, if we commit to changing both our habits and our infrastructure. Simple actions such as switching off the tap as we brush our teeth, to using leftover drinking or bath water to water the plants, can make a big difference, not only to our water and energy consumption, but also to our bills. For those in the water industry, the challenge lies in finding the right tools and technologies to make systems, both new and old, more energy and water efficient. By demonstrating the advantages solutions such as variable speed drives or circulator pumps can have, you’re also educating the general public on the benefits of adopting a more responsible approach to their water and energy. Safe-guarding our natural resources is vital in maintaining the planet for future generations. It may sound a little trite but, when it comes to water conservation, it’s often the small changes that make the biggest difference. the way we use and consume this vital commodity www.hpmmag.com September 2017 enquiry number 101 Variable speed drives, such as Xylem’s Hydrovar, reduce the amount of water wasted down the plughole, because they are capable of reaching the required temperature much faster than a fixed-speed booster


HPM September 2017
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