Water saving in the home places #46 on Drawdown’s list of climate solutions. It can eliminate 4.61 gigatons of carbon dioxide emissions by 2050 at a net cost of $US72.44 billion, producing net savings of $1.8 trillion, based solely on energy savings from more efficient use of hot water.
Water and energy usage are interconnected, so efforts to curb water consumption also help save energy. Water availability in many parts of the world, and the impacts of climate change on local drought and precipitation patterns, make water and energy efficiency a pressing concern.
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Some home water use is necessary, but it currently consumes such massive amounts of energy that “hot water is responsible for a quarter of residential energy use worldwide,” Drawdown notes. In the United States, citizens use 98 gallons of water every day, most of it for indoor facilities like toilets, showers, and washing machines, but with a sizeable portion devoted to non-essential irrigation like watering lawns.
To promote both energy and water efficiency, Drawdown prescribes some serious but worthwhile changes for landlords and homeowners. Just switching to higher-efficiency appliances like low-flush toilets and low-flow faucets and showerheads can cut residential water use by 45%. The book also advocates individual, behavioural changes like shorter showers, washing only full loads of laundry, and flushing three times less per day.
The potential savings add up fast: According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. alone could save 38 million kilowatt-hours of electricity per year by installing more efficient toilets in only one home out of 100.
Drawdown points to “water conservation success stories” that have already accumulated, thanks to policies that restrict water usage and make efficient plumbing mandatory. Consumers can take cues from effective product labelling that showcases water efficiency. And rebate programs for water-efficient appliances increase the incentive to use them.