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  • swiss eco tap

    Why washing your hands in cold water is just as effective as using hot water, as well as being much better for the environment

    As we’ve written before on this blog, there’s more pressure that ever on organisations to save water and reduce their carbon footprints. One way to significantly reduce the environmental impact of of your washrooms is to switch to cold water only for hand washing.

    Many people believe that there’s a hygiene benefit to washing hands in warm water, but research has shown that that’s simply not the case. In 2017 scientists at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, Canada, showed that washing hands in cold water was just as effective at removing germs as washing using warm water.

    Washing hands in cold water removes just as many germs as warm water

    The researchers covered the hands of volunteers with harmless bugs, then asked them to wash their hands in water that was either 15C, 26C or 38C. They found that using water at a temperature of 15C, essentially cold water, removed just as many bugs as washing hands in water at either of the higher temperatures.

    NHS guidelines in the UK state that people can wash their hands in either cold or hot water. The key thing that determines hand washing effectiveness isn’t the temperature of the water but the length of time spent washing (at least 20 seconds) and ensuring that the whole surface of the hands is covered with soap.

    Warm water isn’t hot enough to kill germs

    This makes sense. In order to be able to actively kill germs, water would have to be heated to close to boiling point – that’s the temperature of the water in your dishwasher, or of water used for sterilisation of medical implements – which would clearly then mean that it could not be used for hand washing. The warmth of water at a temperature comfortable for hand washing is nowhere near hot enough for the temperature to play a role in killing germs. It’s the soap that’s doing the work, not the water.

    Cold water is better for your hands

    There are other advantages to using cool water for hand washing. Repeatedly washing your hands in water that’s too hot isn’t good for your skin – exposure to hot water can irritate and damage your skin. Ironically, such irritation makes your hands more vulnerable to infection and germs. So, using cool water is better for your hands.

    The environmental impact of heating water for hand washing is significant

    Switching to cold water for hand washing also has a significant environmental benefit. Heating up water is an energy intensive process. Heating one litre of water by one degree requires just over 4 joules of energy. A typical hand washing process involves using 3.25 litres of water and heating it up by 29C (from an ambient temperature of 10C up to average hand washing temperature of 39C). That’s an energy requirement of almost 400 joules per hand wash. If you assume 1,000 people might use your washroom in a typical day that’s 109 KWh used per day, or almost 40,000 per year. Switching to a tap that uses only cold water cuts out this energy cost completely.

    Additionally, users often have to wait for water to heat up to their desired temperature, meaning that taps are left running for longer than necessary and much more water is used than actually needed. It’s an inefficient process whichever way you look at it.

    The Swiss Eco Tap reduces water use by 90% and energy use by 100%

    Sometimes we talk to clients who are concerned that, despite the obvious environmental benefits, users prefer warm water for hand washing because it’s more comfortable. That’s why we recommend the Swiss Eco Tap, which uses only cold water but has a special spray technology that means there’s no feeling of coldness on the skin.

    The unique spray-pattern aerator jet ensures that the water does not feel cold to the user, even though only cold water is used. Instead the water jet produces an optimal sensation of cleanliness when washing hands and leaves a pleasant feeling on the skin.

    Additionally, this spray technology means that the Swiss Eco Tap uses much less water than a traditional tap but achieves the same cleaning result. In fact, the Swiss Eco Tap uses an incredible 90% less water than traditional taps, less than 0.5 litres per minute compared to one litre every five seconds for standard taps. Cutting water use by 90% and energy use by 100% makes it the world’s most sustainable tap.

    See how it works

    Find out more

    To find out more about how the Swiss Eco Tap can help your organisation to save water and money, call us on 0844 800 7890 or drop us an email.

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    Lord Rupert Redesdale

    Lord Redesdale was the Energy Spokesman for the Liberal Democrats for the House of Lords 2000-2008 during which time he introduced many members’ bills in the area of energy and conservation.

    Lord Redesdale is the CEO of the Energy Managers Association (EMA). The EMA aims to promote the development of energy management and the career structure of Energy Managers in the British economy.

    In 2016, Lord Redesdale co-founded The Water Retail Company (TWRC) with Professor Jacob Tompkins. TWRC is a licensed retailer with a focus on water efficiency and reduction strategy for its customers.

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    Professor Jacob Tomkins

    Jacob is the the co-founder and CTO of The Water Retail Company. Jacob trained as a civil engineer with degrees from UCL and Imperial. He worked as an academic, was water lead for the National Farmers’ Union and freshwater advisor at Water UK. He set up and ran Waterwise the water efficiency NGO for over 10 years. He has developed EU water legislation and recently chaired a UK Govt task force on resilience in the water sector.

    He is currently writing two books for Wiley on water efficiency and water and behaviour. He is a visiting Prof at Exeter University and has an OBE for services to water efficiency.

     

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    Harvey Djangogly

    Harvey brings over ten years of experience designing, leading, and evaluating initiatives that engage individuals, households, and employees in sustainable living, and that motivate pro-environmental change. Harvey works with and advises public, private and civic sector organisations in the UK and U.S. and abroad, focusing in particular on his passion –sustainable water use and efficiency.

    Harvey believes in the dual approach of “behaviour change” harnessed with innovative technology to achieve the goals of meeting water and carbon footprint reduction targets. The FlowlessTM by WINT solution, epitomises Harvey’s philosophy by allowing customers to monitor their water use in real time, empowering them to save water by introducing efficiencies and most importantly preventing and detecting escape of water and leaks thereby providing water security to the client’s facility/workplace

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    Marcel Napflin

    Marcel Näpflin is a long-standing member of the management team of URIMAT Schweiz AG, a leading manufacturer of environmentally friendly products in the sanitary industry. As Director for Marketing & Sales and Member of the Executive Board, Marcel has been responsible for the international marketing and sales strategy and the worldwide expansion of URIMAT. Under his leadership URIMAT developed numerous worldwide patented product innovations which save water, improve hygiene and reduce carbon footprint in restrooms.

    In his role as Business Development Manager Marcel was responsible for the development and launch of URIMAT-CONNECT, a cloud-based digital advertising system built into multi-media waterless urinals which dynamically deliver real time advertising messages via the internet. Marcel is a graduate business economist and has commercial diploma in banking. After he started his professional career in banking he worked in various management positions in the Sporting Goods Industry. 

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    Marcus Rose

    Marcus Rose is Managing Director at Ecoprod and URIMAT UK. He is a fully qualified mechanical engineer by training & background, with many years’ experience in the construction industry especially related to mechanical, sanitary and washroom applications.

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    Paul Musgrove

    For the last 3 decades Paul has worked in the UK and International Projects Business to deliver  correct solutions for customers in an ethical and consultative and technical approach.

    He has qualifications in commercial contracting working in healthcare environment, for the last 12 years specialising in water-related products.

    Today, sustainability aspects are key whilst also balancing this with keeping water ways moving and clean. Understanding how water is stored and delivered in buildings with an awareness on pathogens in our waterways, and how we as manufacturers can change products to help with infection reduction.

    His greatest achievement, second to his family, is the work he carried out in Botswana, working at a high level with government officials to deliver five new hospitals over four years in very poor conditions, which required the development of new communities, housing, schools etc.

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