A couple of years ago one of my relatives bought a small motel in a Texas town with the aim of turning it around and making a profit. In the small motel industry in the U.S. you will find many success stories in small hotels, especially those purchased by Indian immigrants. One of the keys to the success for small motels is cutting costs and the new immigrants have excelled at this by paying attention to the small details such as energy and water use, among other things.
Learning from these immigrant entrepreneurs, my relative bought a 34 unit complex in Central Texas from the owners who were retiring and set about turning the property around. He started by hiring a certified RESNET energy rater to take a look at the property’s energy use. Among the recommendations the energy rater made were fixing leaking faucets, installing weather stripping around the doors, replacing outdated laundry equipment, insulating the attic of one of the wings of the motel, upgrading a few of the older AC units, insulating hot pipes and installing a demand type hot water heater. These changes cost about twenty thousand dollars and resulted in a monthly savings to the motel property of approximately $500 a month.
To further reduce motel water costs my cousin replaced all of the shower heads with low flow ones and installed dual flush conversion kits in the rooms, along with a brief sign showing guests how to flush upward for ‘liquid waste” and downward for “solid waste”. When he told me about the last innovation to save motel water costs I decided to order a couple of kits for my own home. They cost around $28.00 and are easy for the average person to install. I must admit that I was a bit skeptical about their use in a motel since I was afraid kids and other guests might decide to flush just for the novelty. That is apparently a minor problem since he has reported an overall drop in water use for the motel property of 1/3.
Lastly he has turned his water conserving eye to the grounds, where he and his wife have begun to replace traditional landscaping plants such as hedges with yucca and other desert plants that use very little water.
Dual flush kits such as the Hydroflush are inexpensive and have proven to last under heavy commercial use in motels. Property owners like my cousin are starting to convert motel toilets to dual flush to save on water costs.
Don’t be surprised if in your next motel room you find a toilet handle that works in two directions.
For more on how to convert any regular toilet to dual flush see: