Do Your Part to Tame the Water-Energy Nexus
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In addition to monthly utility bills, there are hidden costs of hot water that impacts your budget and the environment.
It’s called the water-energy nexus, the link between water and energy. Every step of the water-use cycle in a home — producing, moving, treating and heating water, then collecting and treating wastewater — consumes energy.
According to RESNET, a recognized national standards-making body for building energy efficiency rating and certification systems in the United States, “water heating is a large energy load in homes and its contribution to total home energy load has increased in recent years as building envelops and mechanical systems improvements have resulted in significantly reduced energy consumption.”
Water is a critical part of our lifestyle. What we don’t really understand is the combination of water and energy. Water is the most intensive product to heat out of all products in the world except for one: liquid ammonia. And yet, 99% of people use hot water daily.
Investing to avoid wasting hot water makes sense: it takes 27 times more electricity to heat hot water than it does to move water, hot or cold, in the first place.
The average U.S. home wastes about 10,000 gallons per year per home waiting for the hot water to come to sinks and showers. That amount of water represents about 3500 kWh per home for heating, which represents a pound and a half of carbon dioxide for every kWh.
Homes that are sensitive to water heating and conservation will have an edge in the marketplace. Check out the EPA's WaterSenseprogram and LEED for Homes for home certifications. Look for WaterSense labeled fixtures, including faucets and toilets, to save water in your home and reduce your impact on the water-energy nexus.
Additional products like the ACT, Inc. D'MAND Kontrols® can reduce the wait time for hot water and the water wasted down the drain. It provides hot water on demand, saving water and energy every time you use hot water. Some water heaters are now available with built-in recirculation pumps as well.
Green certification programs and tools like the hot water recirculation pumps can help you reduce your home's energy impact and reduce utility costs over the long term.
Gary Wollenhaupt Gary Wollenhaupt is an experienced writer and editor, with a background as a daily newspaper reporter as well as corporate and agency public relations and marketing. He is constantly looking for affordable green upgrades to make to his home in eastern Kentucky. www