According to the City of Baltimore Department of Public Works, Bureau of Water and Wastewater, high water bills can be caused by many different reasons, ranging from water leaks, excessive usage, stolen water, estimated bills or incorrect meter readings. For the owner of the 356 Lochwood apartments, those reasons were magnified by the never-ending maintenance calls he was receiving about the largest “consumer” of water in a household: the toilet.
“While the city encourages water conservation, it is up to the owners and managers of complexes such as Lochwood Apartments to take a proactive approach,” said Bret Hopkins, Managing Member for Fairfax Station Enterprises, LLC, the company that manages Lochwood Apartments. “And that’s exactly what we did.”
According to Hopkins, he first considered Flushmate® technology for performance considerations. “My crews were busy unplugging toilets instead of doing their other maintenance responsibilities,” he said. “For example, I had one tenant with special needs and we were in that unit about once a week unplugging the toilet. I decided to test a Flushmate-equipped fixture in that unit to reduce the maintenance calls. The performance was outstanding – virtually eliminating all maintenance issues since installation.”
For Hopkins, residents come first.
“For every dollar spent, we target positive impacts for the residents, to drive down expenses, and increase income – in that order,” he explained. “By installing Flushmate, we achieved these objectives, greatly improving the living conditions of the residents.”
The potential water savings offered by the Flushmate technology was an added bonus.
Hopkins explained that ROI and improved cash flow excited him as an investor and manager of real estate. “By cutting water consumption, we knew we would reduce our water bills, which would improve the ROI for the toilets. Based on our current water rates, and the pending increases, the ROI on these toilets will be less than 24 months,” he said.
How Flushmate Works at Lochwood
Hopkins’ approach to the 356 units at Lochwood, which consist of one and two-bedroom apartments, each with single bathrooms, was simple: testing. “With water bills continuing to go up and up, it became imperative that we do something with the toilet, which is the largest single ‘consumer’ of water in a household,” he said. Compounding the problem, for three consecutive years, the Baltimore Department of Public Works approved 9% increases for water rates.
After careful study of toilet technologies, he selected toilets equipped with Flushmate’s 1.0 gallon per flush pressure-assisted system.
“We chose Flushmate because it met all of our requirements,” Hopkins said. “We wanted a toilet that was robust enough to handle all of our situations. So we installed four new fixtures at two different properties to test them.”
Once the fixtures with Flushmate were installed, the problem was solved almost overnight. “In-service time of approximately 400 Flushmate-equipped toilets is almost eight months, and we have been on only five toilet-related maintenance calls. We used to get that many on a Saturday,” Hopkins said approvingly.
The indisputable success of the Flushmate installation led to the maintenance team replacing each toilet in all 356 apartments at Lochwood.
“We have had such positive results from dramatically fewer maintenance calls and lower water bills, that we have begun to implement Flushmate at three more properties,” Hopkins added.
The Proof is in the Billing
The water bills for Lochwood reflect dramatic water savings to go along with the much lighter maintenance duties. “We got our skilled maintenance men out of the toilet business and into the skilled labor business for which they were intended,” he said, pointing out that the water bills over time demonstrate significant savings.
Those savings include a 57% average drop in daily cubic foot water usage and a 46% average reduction in water costs because of less usage. According to Hopkins, that can mean “big bucks because of the number of apartments involved.”
The answer is Flushmate-equipped toilets, especially if you want to combine water savings and high performance for the residents.
Bret Hopkins, Managing Member for Fairfax Station Enterprises, LLC
Multi-housing facilities such as Lochwood Apartments now have a viable alternative to increasingly higher water bills, plus a solution to replace older, inefficient fixtures that can be found in such buildings. “The answer is Flushmate-equipped toilets,” said Hopkins, “especially if you want to combine water savings and high performance for the residents. I treat this like a business but make decisions as if it were my home.”
Hopkins said that future savings will help reduce operating expenses and improve their cash flow. “Flushmate technology is going to go a long way to help our position.”