With the escalating long-term water crisis in California – we have a simple solution that can make a big impact. Savenia Hydro Rating Labels on retail shelves and online can show Californians for the first time how much water washing machines and dishwashers use BEFORE they buy. The Savenia rating system has been available for years and used by millions of consumers across several mid-atlantic states, and can easily move to California. The system can also be applied to other appliance categories like air conditioners that have California specific usage and energy characteristics.
Savenia Labs announced today that it has conducted an exhaustive analysis of the municipal water costs of hundreds of cities across the United States*, and has compiled this information into a unique database called WaterSavvy-DBTM. See full press release here.
WaterSavvy-DBTM is the most up-to-date database of municipal residential water costs in the US and affords valuable insights into one of our country’s most important natural resources.
The database will power the next generation of Savenia HYDROTM water, energy and environmental impact ratings for dishwashers and washing machines to help buyers save money and local water supplies.
Here is a sample of our findings.
Pricing System Permutations
There is no standard way localities charge for water costs – from our search we found more than a dozen ways to calculate a water bill, ranging from one fixed price per month, to rates that rise depending on usage and change by the season. There are pricing tiers, seasonal rates, fixed costs, administrative fees, sewer rates, block rates, average and marginal per gallon costs. WaterSavvy-DBTM captures every feature of pricing for all its cities.
Not Just Water Anymore
Over 60% of the average water bill is for sewer and administrative fees. While there is a wide variation on how water bills are calculated, on average a family of four in the United States pays most for sewer ($32/mo.) followed by water ($30) and administrative fees ($19) on their monthly water bills.
Dramatic Price Differences
Savenia found big differences in water prices across the country. The most expensive water was in Atlanta, GA where an average family spends $2,600 per year – almost 10 times more than residents in Wilmington, DE. Interestingly, 4% of cities surveyed don’t pay for water based on their usage but instead pay flat fees regardless of usage. The average US household pays $80 per month. Pricing logic is not always clear. We found cheap water in the Southwest where water is thought to be scarce, and expensive water in areas where rivers seem to be full. In many cases sewer costs seem to be driving the differences.
Bringing It All Together For Shoppers
Using this data, Savenia found that shoppers in different cities would choose completely different appliances to save money depending on local water and electricity prices. Take the example of two families living in different states looking to buy a washing machine. One family, in Hilo, Hawaii, pays some of the country’s highest electricity rates but comparatively low water prices. The other family is in Seattle, WA, with high water prices, but comparatively low electricity rates. They’ve narrowed down their options to these two similarly sized Energy Star washing machines from well-known brands:
- The Whirlpool WTW4880AW, 3.4 cu. ft., retailing for $600 (144 kWh/yr, 7743 gallons/yr)
- The GE GWFH1200DWW, 3.56 cu. ft., retailing for $800 (181 kWh/yr, 5582 gallons/yr)
In Hilo, the family would save about $300 over their washing machine’s lifetime by purchasing the Whirlpool, while the Seattle family would save about $300 by purchasing the GE model. Drastically different decisions based on local utility pricing. If electricity or water prices go up over time they would save even more.
With the power of WaterSavvy-DBTM, Savenia Labs continues to illuminate hidden appliance costs and environmental impacts.
*For this survey, Savenia Labs assumed water use for a family of 4 using a consistent 8400 gallons a month regardless of season. No hookup or starting fees were assessed and there were no irrigation or grey water recycling systems in the house. The water is city billed and maintained (where available) and the family is billed monthly. The family lives in a standalone house with a 5/8ths or, if unavailable, 3/4ths connection with 8 rooms and is within the city limits.
We are delighted to announce today the launch of Savenia Labs ‘HYDRO’ Energy Rating Labels on large appliances. Full release is here. These labels are the first of their kind to report both lifetime water use and energy cost, customized by zip code region anywhere in the US.
Water is increasingly viewed as one of our nations most valuable natural resources. Whether due to the realities of water scarcity in the west, or concerns about water quality in the east, people are looking for more information to make better decisions. Savenia Labs can help.
Most people might be surprised to know that for washing machines, we found water costs can run 3-4x higher than energy costs, so buying water efficient units saves both money and the environment.
The thirstiest washing machine we rated used 140,000 gallons of water, the equivalent of 14 swimming pools of water over its 11 year lifetime at a water cost of $1,650 (Potomac, MD), while the most water efficient unit of the same size used only 1/3 that amount. But up to now it has been difficult to compare water use across products in the same category at the time of purchase. Savenia Labs HYDRO Energy Rating Labels solve this problem by providing both water use AND energy use by product at a glance, so buyers can make better decisions.
The ratings are currently available to enterprise customers, and will be made available to appliance retailers and consumers in fall 2013. In the meantime, consumers can sign-up for information on the Savenia Hydro program here.