During the drought in the early 90’s, water became a commodity for the first time in history, and the cost of water soared, and these water prices have remained high long after that drought was over. Then, recycling of trash became mandatory due to statewide legislation and trash removal providers became franchised, leaving the consumer with no choice of vendors, enforced recycling of trash and the highest trash pick-up rates in history, continuing to increase in cost annually. Sewer and storm drain fees were the next utility to skyrocket in cost due to increased development and the need for more sewage pumping and processing stations. Then, due to the deregulation of both gas and electricity, we are paying the highest gas and electricity prices in history. Now, we are facing increased water costs once again due to the current drought situation. DO YOU SEE A TREND?
ALL utilities… water/sewer, trash, gas, electric and telephone continue to increase in costs each year. This trend has continued for the last two decades, with no changes in sight. These increasing utility costs have created several new trends:
- Utilities now rank as the #1 budget cost to almost all associations in California
- Utility companies are now introducing elaborate tiered and penalty rate schedules, whereby customers are penalized for all utility consumption above a relatively low or “baseline” amount, established by the utility company
- Energy conservation companies, whose sole purpose is to reduce the overall usage of their customers utility consumption by installing energy efficient equipment, retrofitting existing equipment to be more energy efficient or changing the way that their customers use their equipment in order to reduce the number of utility units, such as kilowatthours, therms, etc. used each month, in addition to obtaining any available rebates from the utility companies for these changes.
- Utility audit companies, whose sole purpose is to “audit” utility bills to determine if there are any errors or overcharges, which would entitle the utility customer to a refund from the utility company, or, in almost all cases, obtain lower utility rates for their customers from the same utility companies. This reduces the per unit cost of the kilowatthours, therms, etc. regardless of the amount used.
All associations should have both an energy “audit” and a utility “audit”, simultaneously or separately, as these two options are completely separate and distinct services. This would ensure that the association is managing their utility consumption in the most efficient manner, AND paying less per unit for all utility consumption! These services should be no different than scheduling the annual financial audit or Reserve Study, especially considering the continuing trend of rising utility costs.
Utility companies and state agencies want you to believe that the only way to reduce your water utility bills is to invest in more efficient equipment that reduces your water usage – like satellite-controlled irrigation systems, new sprinkler heads, soil softening agents, etc – or to change how you use your utilities – like planting drought resistant plants, installing artificial turf, xeriscaping, low-flow fixtures etc.
What they don't tell you is that there is another way to reduce your utility bills that delivers documented savings month after month, even after efficiency upgrades and reduced consumption have stopped generating a return on investment. Utility auditing is not energy management, retrofitting, rebates or equipment upgrades: https://pacificutilityaudit.com/local/uploads/files/PUA_PDF1_01-16-2014.pdf
Investing in water conservation technologies and energy efficient equipment reduces the amount of water you use, but these measures do not reduce the per unit cost of your water. Utility auditing saves you money every month by identifying errors and overcharges by your water company, as well as determining lower water rates that might be available to you. There are no capital expenses. There is nothing to install. And you do not need to change anything about what your are doing now!
Energy efficient equipment upgrades are 'standard best practice' for achieving lower costs. But they also deliver diminishing returns. Since utility rates only go up, once new equipment achieves ROI (return-on-investment), your financial payback diminishes every year. When a utility audit identifies a better rate, it reduces your per-unit cost from then on. This means that you continue to get the same percentage of savings every month, even as rates go up. Combined, they allow you to acheive maximum cost control.
Here is an example of ABC Association, and how they spent $45,000.00 in water reduction technologies, reduced their annual water consumption by 10,000 units of water, but still ended up spending the same amount of money for thier water less than 4 years later: https://pacificutilityaudit.com/local/uploads/files/The_Difference_1.pdf
If you have installed energy saving technologies, conserved, and planted drought tolerant landscaping — but your business or association’s water utility charges are still too high – and drought conditions will drive up costs even more – enlist an ally to help you curb out-of-control utility costs: Pacific Utility Audit.