It has been about four months since federal faucets here went cold turkey.
Although the OPEC nations have not yet been brought to heel, there have been some positive results from the Cold (water) War, according to U.S. spigot watchers. For instance, since use of hot water has been curtailed:
People seem to be spending less times in the bathrooms. The 350,000 U.S. employes here and their 60,000 local military counterparts are using an are using an estimated 2 gallons less of water each day.
Uncle Sam will save an estimated $1 million a year in fuel oil costs.
Thanks to the cold-water policy, our government is buying 12,000 fewer barrels of No. 6 heating oil annually than it did before the June cutoff.
Most federal workers seem to have adjusted to the fact that faucets now spew out 55-degree water in restrooms in which 100 degrees once was common. (That assumption, I hasten to add, is one made by government gurus handling the energy conservation program, not necessarily my own.)
The hot-water cutoff, which does not apply to showers, kitchens or VIP bathrooms, was first reported in this column on June 9. Within a couple of days, crews had moved through most of the 151 government-owned buildings here, removing many of the hot-water taps so employes could not use them until thermostats had been adjusted. It took a little longer, but the government also has managed to choke off most hot water in restrooms in the 318 facilities Uncle Sam uses to house its workers.
Before the government moved against hot water, teams of engineers and scientists researched federal hand-washing practices to determine whether the cutoff would be worth the heat it would generate. They concluded that it would.
Studies showed that the typical federal worker used from two to three gallons of hot water each day for a variety of things, mostly hand and face washing.
It was learned that the typical three-quarter-inch spigot in the typical federal agency bathroom was capable of pumping out 10 gallons of hot water each minute.
U.S. officials, responding to the president's emergency conservation program, figured that the hot-water cutoff had a real dollar-saving value. And a real public relations value, too! To make sure the nation would know that Washington could be tough on its own, the hot-water cutoff was limited to the National Capital region, which includes the District and the surrounding counties of Maryland and Virginia.
Based on impressive statistics bearing on the use of the water itself and the expenditure of energy used to heat some of it, federal officials say that they have no intention of revising the program this winter. The money savings alone are enough to swing the issue.