Water & Wastewater
Washington, DC — Hawaii’s state legislature approved a bill (HB556) this week that would adopt minimum efficiency standards for common household products including computers, faucets, and showerheads. Governor David Ige is expected to sign the bill into law, saving Hawaiians millions of dollars on their utility bills and billions of gallons of water annually.
Energy and water resources have long been recognized as interdependent, but policymakers have rarely addressed their interaction in any formal way. The energy-water nexus has increasingly attracted the attention of researchers and practitioners. Their goal is to better understand how water is used to produce energy and generate electricity; how energy is used to move, heat, and treat water; and how policies can successfully address the technical challenges of efficiently managing these resources together.
ACEEE’s interest in the energy–water nexus comes from the fact that a large amount of energy is consumed in the water and wastewater industries, as well as in water end-uses, primarily water heating. Addressing water and energy efficiency together can lead to substantial cost-effective energy and water savings. Other benefits include mitigating and adapting to climate change, and increasing community resilience.
ACEEE’s first entry in our energy-water blog series outlined the ways climate change could fundamentally affect the energy-water nexus. In this post, we explore the roles of energy efficiency and water efficiency in moderating some of the adverse impacts of climate change that we covered in the prior post.
ACEEE and many others have noted the importance of the nexus between energy and water issues. Energy is used to move, treat, and heat water. Water is vital for producing energy, such as for cooling electric generating plants. Insufficient water availability can increase energy use for pumping and decrease energy production. Flooding can damage both energy and water systems. And there are many opportunities to promote both energy and water efficiency at the same time.
How much energy does it take to fill a glass with drinking water? If you take into account the energy to transport the water from its source through the treatment and distribution process and into your faucet, there’s a lot of embedded energy that goes into that glass of water. And that’s not even getting into any energy used in the wastewater treatment process.
This is a busy time of year in competitive sports. Top teams in the NBA (including our hometown Wizards) and NHL are competing for the Larry O’Brien Trophy and Stanley Cup. American Pharaoh just won the Kentucky Derby last week, and Chelsea took the Premier League title. But don’t forget about another friendly competition—the one for most energy-efficient city in the 2015 City Energy Efficiency Scorecard! There are only five days to go until the results are released on Wednesday May 20.
Let’s have a conversation about water and energy. We know that the two resources are connected: We need water to produce electricity, mostly for thermal power plants (though we are going to put that aside today). We need energy to pump water out of the ground, treat it so it is potable, and then re-treat it after we use it to shower or wash clothes. We also need energy to heat water in our homes, businesses, and industrial facilities.
State and local governments are laboratories for innovation in energy efficiency policies and programs. Policymakers, regulators, and citizens at all levels increasingly recognize that energy efficiency is crucially important to their economies and are increasingly taking action and seeking information on policies and programs in their communities. Today ACEEE is launching a new database tool that highlights the energy efficiency leadership—and opportunities for improvement—of state and local governments around the United States.