Water use is an often overseen but significant cause of carbon dioxide emissions. A recent report we produced with the Environment Agency helps us understand the carbon emissions from water use at home and the potential for savings. It looks at the energy wasted through hot water heating, inefficient boilers and poorly lagged pipes. Quantifying the energy and carbon effects of saving water shows that energy saving initiatives in the home must include measures to reduce hot water use if we are to meet our emission reduction targets.

Domestic water use in the UK is pretty high – at around 150 litres per person per day. Taking water from the environment, treating it, distributing it to households, using it in the home, collecting it when it has become sewage and then treating it before discharging it back into the environment are all processes requiring energy, and therefore result in CO2 emissions. In order to best focus policy on how to minimise CO2 emissions from this train of events, we need to understand which parts of this process are the most energy intensive. We will use the report’s findings to help shape our forthcoming pilot, funded by EU Life+ and in partnership with Waterwise, to integrate water efficiency advice with energy advice through our advice centres in Cardiff, Edinburgh and London from September 2009.

People might argue that we are a rainy island – we should have plenty of water! But when you take into account the energy consumed in the treatment process, it pays to save water. Not everyone has a water meter, but everyone has an energy bill!

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