The UK Government’s efforts to reduce household emissions are overlooking the energy wasted by water heating, says a report from the Energy Saving Trust and the Environment Agency.
The report, Quantifying the energy and carbon effects of saving water, reveals that 6% of the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions are associated with water use – and nearly 90% of those emissions come from water use in the home.
However, the Government’s current proposals to improve the energy efficiency of homes will not impact on water heating. In the future, as measures such as loft and cavity wall insulation reduce a household’s overall energy usage, water heating could become the largest source of emissions.
Currently, water heating accounts for around 23% of a household’s energy use, but this proportion could rise to over 70% in future.
Despite improved sustainability standards for new homes and the use of water-saving technologies, the average water use per person in Britain has not changed in around a decade and stands at 150 litres per day.
The Energy Saving Trust and the Environment Agency are calling on the Government to rectify the situation by tightening up building regulations to improve the energy efficiency of hot water systems.
But even implementing simple measures such as lagging pipes and using low-flow taps and aerated shower heads could reduce emissions by 30% and save households around £225 a year on water and energy bills.
The Energy Saving Trust and the Environment Agency also recommend installing a water meter, dual-flush toilets and replacing washing machines and dishwashers with more water-efficient models.
Meanwhile, following the House of Commons Select Committee report yesterday on balancing sustainable water supply with affordability, water regulator Ofwat has rejected water companies’ request to increase customer bills between 2010 and 2015. Instead, Ofwat is proposing that water companies cut bills by an average of £14 to £330 in England and Wales.
For further information:
UK Government urged to develop a ‘water efficiency obligation’ (22-Jul)
UK outlines plan for cutting emissions (16-Jul)
UK Government announces water efficiency measures for new homes (14-May)
UK Environment Agency calls for “near universal” water metering (1-Apr)
Water companies must increase efficiency, says Ofwat (21-Nov 2008)
Ofwat outlines plans for water efficiency targets (26-Jun 2008)
23 July 2009