Bethesda Company Releases Water Pricing Research


A Bethesda Green incubator company this week unveiled a database of water prices from across the country it says can help families save serious money. Savenia Labs, which provides energy ratings for popular appliances, on Wednesday gave a sneak peak of its WaterSavvy-DB product, a database of water pricing by zip code. The idea is for the pricing information to go into energy ratings for dishwashers and washing machines, which can help consumers save money. Savenia found that more than 60 percent of the average water bill comes from sewer and administrative fees. There are many ways a water bill can be calculated, but an average family of four pays $32 a month for sewer costs, $30 for actual water and $19 for administrative fees. The most expensive water was in Atlanta, where an average family spends $2,600 a year or $221 a month on water bills. That's almost 10 times more than people in Wilmington, Del., which was found to have the cheapest water pricing at $23 a month. The average household pays $80 a month and where people pay more or pay less isn't always obvious. Savenia found cheap water prices in the Southwest (where water is scarce) and expensive water in areas where water is thought to be plentiful. Sewer costs seem to drive the differences. Here's what the water pricing could mean in a practical scenario, from Savenia's blog: 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. For now, the company is offering its energy ratings to retailers in the D.C. and Baltimore metro areas. The company's first client was Strosnider's Hardware in Bethesda and it's now placing ratings on products in local Ace Hardware stores.

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