Leak Detection from Your Desk
It's a common occurrence for utility bills to come in, go to accounting, get paid, and be filed away, never to be seen again. A lot of useful data is being filed away, especially in the case of water bills. Even if you take the time to look at your water usage, what does it mean?
Tracking your utility data lets you pretty easily catch spikes that likely indicate leaks or abnormal usage. If there are no spikes, then everything must be chugging along smoothly, right?
Unfortunately, that's not always the case. There could be long-standing hidden leaks that are just part of what you see each month. Benchmarking is a tool that will allow you to get a better sense of how your building is actually doing.
Benchmarking offers a way to compare one building to others in your portfolio or a wider group. By knowing what other properties are using, you have a way of knowing if your building is better or worse than average and by how much.
Water benchmarks are usually expressed in the number of gallons per bedroom per day (g/b/d). We've seen a pretty wide range of numbers here at Wego, from a low of about 40 g/b/d to a high of over 600!
If your building has consistently been using 200-250 g/b/d that's probably the range you consider normal. When benchmarked against similar buildings, though, a different story emerges. In WegoWise, the typical monthly usage ranges from 60-90 g/b/d, with a median of 78 g/b/d. What you've been thinking of as "normal" is actually 3-4x as much as everyone else is using!
While benchmarking won't tell you exactly what your problem is, it will let you know that there may be an issue going on with your building that should be more closely investigated. From a faulty meter to leaky toilet flaps to your neighbor running a hose to his illegal basement apartment so he doesn't have to pay for the water "included" in their rent, there are many potential causes. Or it may turn out there aren't any problems and, due to unique features of your building, 200-250 g/b/d is normal.
Of course, performing water utility benchmarking isn't all you can do. You can benchmark your electricity and natural gas use. For these, benchmarks get slightly more complex, so we'll cover that in future posts.