Overhead can eat into the always vital budgets of a hospital, but by cutting back on the expense of water heating, these costs can be kept to a minimum.
Hospitals are among some of the most technologically advanced commercial facilities in the world. Doing everything from addressing issues of trauma to conducting important research about diseases, there are a number of different operations being conducted at any single moment.
Many of these operations require hot water for cleaning equipment, certain treatments and other operations. Unfortunately, because many hospitals can be so large, the cost of heating and using water can get quite high. These expenses are multiplied when the facility is on the older side, and not built to current energy efficiency standards. This could be eating into the hospital budget that administrators would much rather spend on other operations like research and treatment.
The rising cost of water in health care
The Environmental Protection Agency noted that many hospitals have noticed the cost of waste and water waste services have increased much faster than the consumer price index – a trend that many facilities managers do not expect will reverse anytime soon.
Compounding this trend is the high volume of water use within the health care industry. According to the EPA, water use comprises about 7 percent of the total water use in commercial and institutional facilities throughout the country, making it a particularly vital commodity to the day-to-day functions of a hospital.
This makes the implementation of efficient water heating and management solutions vital. If done properly, such improvements can reduce operating costs by 11 percent, energy use by 10 percent and water use by 15 percent. The EPA pointed to the example of a Washington State hospital that retrofitted its restroom, kitchen mechanical and medical fixtures with water-efficient models that led to $140,000 in annual savings.
Using a tankless water heater
Water use and maintenance spans a variety of different functions, however, one of the biggest is water heating. For every utility dollar spent, roughly 14 to 18 cents of that goes toward water heating alone, which means that there is a lot of potential to generate savings on this front.
However, which solution is the best? This question can be hard to answer, as every solution has its own advantages and disadvantages. However, when making these decisions, it is important to consider performance, cost and the lifespan of the solution.
For instance, a tanked water heating solution is the cheapest in terms of initial price, however, even Energy Star-approved tanks can generate waste in what are known as "standby losses," or the energy needed to keep water warm at all times.
This is why commercial electric tankless water heaters have emerged as a popular alternative. Rather than using a tank to keep water warm, these heaters work by heating the water on demand, thereby eliminating standby waste, while at the same time, providing an endless stream of hot water.
The Department of Energy noted that these solutions are 45 to 60 percent more efficient that a water heater that is designed to meet minimum standards, generating up to $1,800 in savings over the course of its lifetime. On top of this, tankless water heaters have the longest expected life span of any of the available solution on the market at 20 years.
The returns for implementing a tankless water heater can generate impressive savings within the hospital setting, making it a strong investment for facilities managers looking to bring down their operating budgets.