How Saving Water Saves Energy

It’s easy to think of water, electricity, and gas as three independent resources.

It’s easy to think of water, electricity, and gas as three independent resources. You get a water bill, an electric bill, and a gas bill. Some equipment and processes use water, some use electricity, and some use gas.

But the reality is that there’s a relationship between water consumption and energy use. The more water you use, the more energy you use. In fact, a 2005 study by the California Energy Commission found that water use accounted for 19 percent of California’s electricity use and 30 percent of its non-power plant-related natural gas use.

Your facility’s ratio may not break down exactly like the state of California’s, but there’s always a tradeoff between water and energy use—the relationship between them is called the water energy nexus. You’re obviously not going to just stop using water in order to lower your electric bill or stop using electricity to save water. But it’s important to remember that the total cost of water goes beyond what you see on your water bill.

The two main ways saving water saves energy is by reducing the amount of energy you use to move and heat it.

Here’s how that works.

Moving water uses electricity

Water doesn’t flow throughout your facility on its own. Your water infrastructure and equipment relies on pumps—powered by electricity—to move water where it needs to go. So you will use more energy when you have a leak, a faulty valve, or even a more subtle problem like scaling build-up in your cooling tower resulting in increased fresh make-up water demand.
All of this water has to go somewhere when you are finished using it. If you have your own waste water treatment system on-site, then you will pay to process any excess water that you use over and above what is necessary (i.e. increased energy cost).

But how much power can a water management program really save? Think about how much water you use in a typical month. Compare that to how many kilowatt hours of electricity your pumps and water-intensive processes use throughout the month. If you are wasting thousands of gallons per day, your water infrastructure is operating longer or working harder than it needs to, and that adds up.

When Costco partnered with Apana to get visibility into their water system, our real-time monitoring and instant alerts helped them start saving 30 million gallons of water per year, and in the process, they saved 30 thousand kilowatt hours of electricity. Check out this case study to learn more about how we helped Costco save water.

Heating water requires energy

Any equipment that uses hot water needs gas or electricity to heat it. So when inefficiencies in your water infrastructure, like equipment failures or waste events, cause you to use hot water you don’t need, you’re also wasting natural gas or electricity. The more hot water is wasted, the more energy you waste.

Let’s save water together

Apana’s Water Efficiency as a Service helps you use water more efficiently and detect (and resolve) water waste events quickly. We help our clients save hundreds of millions of gallons of water annually.

Talk to an expert to see how we can lower your water bill and help your facility save energy.