While we may not immediately associate water consumption with our carbon footprint, the energy required to supply cities with clean running water has its costs.
The next component to be evaluated under the LCC 2030 Challenge is the Water Element component, of which a core tenet is water efficiency
Does the consumption of water require a lot of energy?
To safely deliver and treat clean water to homes, a considerable amount of energy is needed. For example, a running tap for five minutes uses as much energy as letting a 60-watt light bulb run for 14 hours. The infrastructure to treat and deliver clean water requires a lot of energy that is unseen by the consumer.
Conservation vs efficiency
With lots of energy spent on treatment and delivery, the onus falls to the consumers to manage their water consumption to reduce our carbon footprint. With regards to water, the most common talking points are on conservation and using water more efficiently.
Much like energy efficiency, the core principle behind water efficiency is doing more with less. Whereas conservation places limits on the usage of water, water efficiency places more emphasis on engineered solutions coupled with conscious consumption patterns.
How can we improve our water efficiency?
To ensure that the nation maintains a healthy supply of clean usable water, various water-efficiency measures in commercial buildings and homes can greatly reduce water waste, yield lower sewage volumes, reduce energy use, and bring financial benefits.
Water efficiency normally relies on well-engineered products and fixtures like reduced water use appliances, low-flow fixtures, sensors, and use of non-potable water for irrigation applications.
When you purchase your next water appliance, make sure it is a 3-Star rated water efficient appliance as rated by the Malaysian National Water Services Commission (SPAN). The water efficiency label shows the estimated water consumption of theappliance – 3-Stars means it is the most water efficient. Water efficiency can lead to significant savings in money and energy.
The efficiency rebound effect
Efficiency isn’t an excuse to use more or to waste water. “The Rebound Effect” – the well-known energy conservation concept states that improving energy efficiency may save less energy than expected due to a rebound in energy use.
This concept notes that users may be lulled into a sense of bountiful supplies that may not exist, just because appliances and fixtures use less water. This misconception could lead to over consumption which negates the benefits of implementing water efficient measures in the first place.
Water disruptions & droughts
In Malaysia, water disruptions remain an occurrence that plagues our citizens on a fairly regular basis. Worrying too, is that droughts remain a possibility which could devastate the many sectors of the economy, particularly in agriculture.
In the event that these situations do occur, citizens need to be prepared. The conservation mindset coupled with water efficient measures will help ensure that there is adequate and sustainable water supply for everyone.
Some simple steps for greater water efficiency
- 3-Star rated water efficient appliances: From dishwashers to water filter systems, installing 3-Star rated water efficient appliances can reduce water consumption.
Low Flow Installations: The installation of low-flow equipment on taps and other water outlets can greatly improve water efficiency by limiting the amount of water pressure and prevent overflows which cause high levels of wastage.
Active Monitoring and Maintenance: Consumers should also actively monitor their water usage by checking their water bills to monitor for irregularities which could indicate leakages or other issues.
Changing Behaviour: Some people may be inclined to wash their cars daily, while others like to take longer showers. To improve water efficiency, acting in moderation is needed. Simple adjustments in one’s lifestyle would have a positive impact overall.