Perhaps it’s because I spent 10 years in Colorado, where the dry climate means every drop of water really counts, but I always conserved water just to conserve water. It recently occurred to me that water conservation is about saving energy too.
My newfound awareness comes thanks to our new low-flow bathroom faucet. The product information on the 1.5 gpm tap touted it as water- and energy-saving, reducing water use by 30 percent. And that’s when it hit me … 30 percent less warm water coming through my tap means my hot water heater works 30 percent less!
As exciting as this revelation was, I knew that I probably would not be making a huge impact with a bathroom faucet that my husband and I only use twice a day.
Good to the last watt
A little more digging revealed that water use — cold or hot — has a bigger carbon footprint than I realized. That’s because treating and delivering the water we use every day requires a lot of energy. According to the EPA, “Letting your faucet run for five minutes uses about as much energy as letting a 60-watt light bulb run for 14 hours.”
What’s more, if one out of every 100 American homes switched to water-efficient fixtures, the EPA says we could save about 100 million kWh of electricity per year — avoiding 80,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions, or the equivalent of taking 15,000 automobiles off the road for one year.
Every drop adds up
If a bathroom or kitchen remodel complete with water-saving appliances and faucets is not in your immediate future, here are a few simple ways to save water — and energy:
- Install faucet aerators on showers and faucets and save “enough electricity to dry your hair every day for a year.”
- Collect rainwater for outdoor gardening. The EPA estimates that a single 100-gallon rain barrel can save up to 1,300 gallons of utility-provided water per summer.
- Learn ways you can save water outdoors.
- Fix a leaky faucet by replacing its washers. One drip per minute equals 2,700 gallons per year.