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Save water to save energy


Water systems use a whopping 19% of the electricity in California. Dry landscaping could save you 357 lbs a year, or about the same as 8 CFL’s

Looking for a new idea to fight climate change? Maybe you’re just starting to act on climate change, and have plenty of previous TerraPass conservation tips on your to-do list. Maybe you’ve gone way overboard and are starting to stealthily replace your neighbors light bulbs with CFLs. Well, in either case, a new place to look for savings doesn’t involve a power cord. It’s your water use. Water is energy, and by saving water, we can make a dent in our energy consumption and save a precious natural resource.

The numbers (pdf) for California are eye opening:

  • 19% of electricity in California is used just to get clean water to our homes
  • 30% of all natural gas in California is used for water processing and conveyance
  • For a southern California home, up to 30% of the energy footprint of the average home is accounted for by water transport

The last one is a shocker. Energy use in water systems is measured in kilowatt-hours per million gallons (kwh/MG). Southern California is estimated to use 12,700 kwh/MG — just 9% more efficient than desalinizing sea water!

So what can you do? Here’s are some basic tips and the carbon savings associated for them. I’ve included a spreadsheet so you can adjust your own calculations.

Fix leaks. Leaks are the water-equivalent of leaving the lights on. A leaky toilet wastes 200 gallons a day. Over a year that could add up to 73,000 gallons, enough to fill a couple of swimming pools. Stopping that leak in SoCal saves 557 lbs of CO2, or the equivalent savings of replacing 13 incandescent bulbs with CFLs.

You may be aware that Londoners are struggling with the loss of over 50% of their water. Clearly this is a place to focus.

Be water conscious. Take a low-flow showerhead as an example. It saves 12 gallons per shower, or 33 lbs of CO2 per year, almost as much a CFL. This doesn’t even count the savings from lower hot water heating costs!

Native Landscaping. This is a biggie. The typical sprinkler system uses 5 gallons per minute. Dry landscaping could save you 357 lbs of CO2, or the same impact as 8 CFLs. Plus, there’s a good chance you won’t have to mow!

Next week, we’ll take a look at the some of the systems coming into homes that may provide some cool ideas for saving water…and energy.

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