It’s good for your bottom line and the environment to adopt water-efficient procedures, equipment and technology for space cooling, refrigeration, laundry, cleaning, and flushing bathroom fixtures.
Get cash incentives to cut water use
Commercial and industrial customers of water utilities in the Saving Water Partnership can get financial incentives to implement water-conservation measures.
Upgrade older equipment and fixtures
Flush valve toilets and urinals
High-efficiency commercial flush-valve toilets have achieved excellent performance and customer satisfaction. WaterSense urinals have been independently tested and certified to meet specific criteria as established by the EPA WaterSense program.
Premium toilets (pdf) use 1.1 gpf or less and are the most efficient WaterSense models. WaterSense toilets use 1.28 gallons per flush (gpf) or less and have been independently tested and certified to meet specific criteria as established by the EPA WaterSense program. Premium toilets use 20% less water and remove 70% more solid waste, compared to regular WaterSense toilets.
In almost all cases, single-pass use of water for cooling is highly wasteful and expensive. Many water-saving options are available – from replacing the equipment with air-cooled equipment, re-circulating the water through a remote refrigeration unit, or tapping an existing source of chilled re-circulating water.
- About food steamers
Standard boiler-based steam cookers draw hot water the entire time the equipment is on. This water that you have paid for and paid to heat is going down the drain while the equipment is on. In addition, more water is wasted to cool down the hot water as it goes down the drain. An inefficient six-pan steamer could be using over 170,000 gallons of water per year.
- About dish washers
ENERGY STAR commercial dishwashers are on average 25% more water efficient and 25% more energy efficient and will use an average of 1,000 fewer gallons per week than old inefficient commercial dishwashers. In addition, ENERGY STAR models use significantly less energy, mainly by heating water more efficiently.
- About ice machines
Ice machines from the Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE) third-tier list of machines have air-cooled condensers and are very efficient making the ice with little water waste. These machines could save you up to $1,000 per year on your water bills and will virtually eliminate water discharged down the sewer, for even greater utility bill savings.
Cooling Tower Improvements
Cooling Tower Workshop
The Cool Tunes Manual and workshop series that took place in 2010 and 2011 provided attendees with cutting edge information and hands-on experience with efficiently-operated cooling towers. Information on the following items can be found in greater detail in the Cool Tunes Manual and in selected links and videos from the workshop series.
- Get your free Cool Tunes Manual (pdf)
- See footage from the workshop’s main presenter, Michael Groh.
- What I See (video)
- Biological Control (video)
- Scale & Corrosion (video)
- Non-Chemical Alternatives (video)
- Real-time chemical control, Electronic conductivity sensors, and highly-functioning float valves (video)
- Off season treatment (video)
- Hybrid cooling towers (video)
- Frequent calibration of all controllers (video)
There are two basic types of machines: gravity and vacuum. During standby mode, condensate is constantly formed and discharged from the chamber. This relatively constant flow is tempered (cooled) by using cold fresh water at a constant flow before being allowed to discharge into the sewer. This form of trap cooling is in effect 24/7 unless the machines are turned off. It is very common, however, to leave this equipment in standby mode.
A trap cooling retrofit kit will allow the exiting hot condensate to cool in an expansion chamber and is monitored for temperature. When the desired temperature is reached, discharge can occur without using any, or very little, cold fresh water to reduce the temperature further.
A vacuum autoclave uses water flow to create a vacuum during the drying phase of the sterilization process. The rate can be as high as 14 gpm once-through constant flow. A new water-conservation technology is to install a vacuum switch in series with the ejector solenoid valve that controls water flow. When the desired vacuum in the autoclave chamber is reached, the solenoid valve is closed and the flow of water is interrupted.
Typical savings for the trap cooling retrofit kit is above 90% which leads to a payback of less than one year at a cost of about $2,500 each. Savings for the vacuum switch has been verified at 35%. Depending on how many cycles per day the unit completes, savings can over $2,000 per unit, again providing a payback of approximately one year or less.
Medical air and vacuum systems
Once-through liquid ring medical air and vacuum systems are reliable, but, like the use of other once-through water cooling technologies, has become very costly because of the associated large consumption of water and then the cost of sewer discharge. Another factor is energy efficiency. Given the age of many of the units still in use, energy efficiency can be enhanced significantly by switching to new air-cooled units installed in series with variable speed motors and sized to come on in stages based on the load required. With high-efficiency motors, overall horsepower is reduced, and less-than-full-load horsepower is greatly reduced. It’s a win-win for water and energy, with combined energy and water rebates often available.
Other medical equipment
Glass washers, cart washers, cage cleaning stations, electron microscopes, image processing, reverse osmosis (RO) production and more could consume high quantities of water in medical or lab settings, and very likely have potential for better water use efficiency. The options will normally fall into these general areas:
- New air-cooled versus water-cooled equipment
- Reducing number of rinse cycles like in a glass washer
- Using already used water when lower quality can produce equal results compared to fresh potable water like in a cage cleaning station.
- Recirculate water for continued use like in a water-cooled electron microscope.
- For RO production increase the production rate and decrease the reject water or capture the reject water and use in another process like a cooling tower or a cleaning process.
The CEE has been rating family-style clothes washers, residential and commercial coin-op, for over 10 years, since the first high-efficiency machines began to make inroads into the retail market. Since those early models, which were up to 50% more efficient than the standard top-loading models, efficiency has increased by that amount again in the highest Tier 3 models. It really pays to upgrade from a water-guzzling standard model to the highest efficiency that one can afford.