Energy efficient appliances, state of the art insulation materials and economical heating sources comprise the main trends of environmental sound practices that people are familiar with nowadays. A significant number of socially responsible blogs routinely advocate them, and it’s overall a good thing. However, a topic that comes up when discussing energy preservation is water, and it’s unfortunate that so few of us remember that a direct correlation between water and energy exists.
Plenty, to be honest! For starters, limiting your household’s water consumption translates into saving the energy required to filter, decontaminate and purify. The supply of freshwater flowing through the faucets in your house bypasses the municipal filtration and purification system, which comprises of heavy duty submersible pumps and other machinery, all requiring power.
Second of all, water is directly involved in the production of energy, and not only via hydroelectric plants. Evaporation in thermoelectric plans consumes plenty of it as well. Conservative estimates indicate that in excess of 2 gallons are required to produce 1 kWh. Then you have hydraulic fracturing and rigs that rely heavily on water for the extraction of natural gas and petrol from the ground, sometimes in areas where supply is scarce.
Finally, and this one should be pretty obvious, heating the water necessitates power, which is furnished by either electrical or gas based boiler systems. Few are comfortable with taking cold showers, particularly in the winter months. When the mercury drops, the energy demand goes up considerably. In the light of these facts, you can easily understand why energy efficiency is dependent on your water consumption, at least at a macroscopic scale. So, how can you help?
The simplest way to maintain your consumption within reasonable levels is to install water-using furnishings designed for efficiency. Let’s find out some of the most popular ones.
• Low flow showers
When you’re shopping for a low flow showerhead, search for the EPA WaterSense seal of approval. This certification is overall a good indicator that the showerhead adheres to the 1.75 GPM standard, as opposed to the federally imposed limit of 2.5 GPM. However, you can also check out 1.5 and even 1.0 GPM models; they generally deliver more than enough pressure and won’t negatively impact your showering experience. Remember, a lower showerhead flow also helps you save energy by reducing the amount necessary for heating up that water.
• Low flow faucets
The EPA WaterSense certification also applies to faucets. A 1.5 GPM faucet provides plenty of water pressure, particularly since most people rarely turn it on at full capacity. It’s worth noting that plumbing industry trends are pointing towards the 1.5 GPM becoming the universal standard, in spite of the 2.2 GPM still constituting the federally imposed limit. In case you don’t feel like replacing all the faucets in your home, installing screwed-in aerators will transform any standard one into a considerably more water efficient version.
• Low flow toilets
When they were first introduced on the market, the primitive technology behind low flow toilets was incapable of flushing down solid waste efficiently from the first two, even three tries and used to clog easily. They required flushing several times and, as a result, ended up wasting more water than normal versions. Naturally, most were turned off by this setback at the time, but on the upside, low flow toilets have come a long way since the early days. A quality 1.28 GPF model is currently able to perform similarly to a standard toilet, but without the high water consumption.
• Efficient dishwasher
Invest in a dishwasher with a higher Energy-Star rating that is capable of cleaning a full load with less than 2.9 GPM to minimize the water footprint. Remember that in excess of the 90% of energy consumed by this appliance goes towards water heating, which in turn means that lowering the water consumption directly influences the energy savings. Furthermore, skipping the heat-dry cycle can also decrease the power usage.
• Efficient washing machine
The Energy-Star rating constitutes the safest way to determine the energy and water efficiency of a washing machine as well. You could employ a few more tricks to reduce the water and energy waste by setting cold-washing cycles for clothing that doesn’t have major stains and letting the laundry air dry naturally.
• Foot-operated kitchen faucets
These ingenious fixtures require keeping a plate pressed down with your foot to supply water and will stop immediately when the trigger is disengaged. They’re great for stopping the flow automatically when you’re washing dishes manually, for instance. You are no longer required to turn the faucet on and off every time you wipe a plate or apply dishwasher soap and, let’s face it, most of us just leave the water running continuously.
The increasing scarcity of the freshwater in conjunction with the increasing demand in the energy production industry should be a cue for both households and production facilities to rethink the way we manage consumption.