Hot water and Energy Print

The links between water and energy are gradually becoming more evident. Generating energy uses a lot of water for cooling and a lack of water has already led to power cuts where nuclear power stations have been shut down during droughts. Likewise, treating and pumping drinking water and waste water uses a lot of energy with the UK water industry accounting for around 1% of UK CO2 emissions. However, the main link between water and energy is something we experience on a personal level every day, yet it is the link that is least recognised by policy makers. Amazingly domestic water heating is responsible for 5% of UK CO2 emissions, and 25% of your household energy bill.

With energy bills increasing, becoming water efficient is a very easy and simple way to save money. Waterwise has calculated the average family could save around £200 a year simply by washing up in a washing bowl or using a full load in your dishwasher rather than washing up under a running tap, and by cutting a minute off the length of your shower. These savings can be increased even further when you always use a full load in your washing machine, swap deep baths for short showers and buy an aerated or optimised-flow shower head (in the sales).

Waterwise has calculated that washing up under a running tap costs you 40p a day, whilst using two wash basins of water or a full load in your dishwasher costs just 8p. Therefore using a full load in your dishwasher and being water efficient can be 5 times cheaper than washing up under a running tap and can save you as much as £110 a year. A family of four could also save about £100 a year on their water and energy bills simply by reducing each shower length by one minute.

Government announcement for retrofitting homes

In February 2009 the government announced plans to retrofit every home in the country for energy efficiency, and to make all homes and buildings zero carbon by 2050. Waterwise is working closely with government to seek to ensure that water efficiency is mainstreamed as part of these ambitious plans - because a quarter of the energy we use in our homes is used to heat water for cooking, bathing and cleaning, hot water efficiency measures such as water-efficient showerheads will help deliver the zero carbon goal.

In addition, wider water efficiency measures which many water companies are already taking forward on a large scale, such as toilet retrofits, will reduce the water industry's own carbon footprint as pumping and treating is reduced, so these will help the government meet its wider, legally binding target of 80% greenhoiuse gas emissions by 2050.

Finally, as the government puts in place plans to ensure all homes are sustainable, it is inconceivable, in the face of climate change predictions of hotter, drier summers and more frequent droughts, that those homes wouldn't be water efficient: they will need to be, to make less water go further.

Simple ways to save water, energy and money

1. Try cutting one minute off your shower.

2. Swap a deep bath for a short shower.

3. Invest in an aerated or optimised-flow shower head. These use less water per minute, but maintain your shower experience.

4. Always use full loads in your dishwahser. If you don't have dishwasher use a washing up bowl rather than washing up under a running tap.

5. Always use full loads in your washing machine.

6. Avoid using the pre-wash setting on your washing machine - this alone can save 15 litres per cycle.

7. Insert flow restrictors in your bathroom sink taps. These reduce the volume of water running from the tap.