Soaring energy prices have long been in the news. Now it’s water’s turn to take up some of the unwanted limelight. The dreaded words ‘postcode lottery’ have even been out in force across the media. And it’s not just that: there’s talk of droughts across some areas too, to compound the bad news.
With water up the news agenda, despite the worries, it might be worth holding that thought rather than it becoming the clichéd chip paper of tomorrow. We do think water, and conserving it, needs to retain a higher public profile.
Water and energy are inextricably linked. We use and take for granted both every day. We’re working on making the link between water and energy clearer – across the UK and Europe, no less, through our EU Life+ project. Just 8 per cent of people in our research areas initially made the link that their water use also contributed to their energy bills: worrying, but it also tells us we need to up our game.
The figures tell their own story: six per cent of all carbon dioxide emissions in the UK come from water use, with nearly 90 per cent of this coming from hot water use in the home. If every UK home reduced their hot water use by just five per cent, the carbon dioxide savings would be equivalent to taking nearly 600,000 cars off the roads.
In the UK, approximately 30 per cent of an average home’s energy bills can be attributed to heating and using hot water.
But here’s the rub: you can cut your water and energy bills, and of course reduce your home’s carbon footprint through simple measures and behaviours changes. What’s more, water efficiency is one of the cheapest ways to save big.
Simply changing to a water-efficient shower head can save over £70 off average gas and water bills. Using a sink of water to wash up twice a day rather than having the hot tap running could save around £34 a year on your gas bill and around £25 on your water bill.
Metering is another part of the perfect storm of watery newsworthiness. According to Water UK, in regions where water is scarce, companies are looking to meter 80 per cent of homes by 2020 and a further 10 per cent by 2030. BusinessGreen also recently reported the potential growth in the market for smart water meters, as utilities look to get water-efficiency ingrained their plans.
As long as metering is combined with greater awareness of how important behaviour is in reducing water and energy use, we think this could bring as many benefits to householders as it does to the companies themselves. But it’s the education, and the actual small changes, that make the difference here.
We’re proud of our Water Energy Calculator tool – and it seems like others appreciate it too. It’s increasingly going on tour for water companies to help their customers make the water/ energy link – and make a change or two. Wessex Water has just signed up to use the tool, following in the footsteps of the likes of Southern Water, South East Water, Yorkshire Water and United Utilities.
We’re also very keen for water to be considered a central energy efficiency concern for major retrofit projects. There’s a lot more to be done here, but a positive attitude to water and energy has already prevailed in some schemes – London’s RE:NEW being a prime example. Water is a staple of our lives – but we all need to give it more TLC if resources are to be managed, and household emissions and bills reduced.