Water is used in almost every area of energy production. A lot of water is needed for oil and gas exploration and production. Did you know that for every liter of oil about 40 liters of water is needed. Energy is needed to pump, transport, and treat drinking water and wastewater, and every KWh of electricity we use consumes about two gallons of water. The United States uses 13% of the nation’s total electricity use to pump, heat, and treat water and is equal to the output of 150 coal-fired power plants.
Coal and Oil exploration not only use plenty of water, but it also gets highly polluted and seldom properly treated. Thermal plants require huge amounts of cooling water, and around 40% of all freshwater withdrawals in the USA are used for thermoelectric energy production. That’s about 136 billion gallons of freshwater withdrawn everyday.
This is roughly the same amount of water as for irrigation. Most of the cooling water is returned but at a higher temperature. The demand for cooling water is in competition with agriculture and municipal demands. We can’t eliminate all water-related energy use, of course, but we could reduce a great deal of it in just a few years through water conservation, efficiency and low impact development.
Buildings consume around 20 percent of the world’s available water, there’s plenty of opportunity to use less. Simple improvements such as fixing water leaks, switching to more efficient equipment, and teaching homeowners better habits can conserve water and make a big difference. On average, using water-efficient products and fixtures can reduce water consumption by 15 percent and energy use by 10 percent.
As rural areas become more developed, a much larger percentage of rainwater hits surfaces like roofs, sidewalks, parking lots, driveways, and streets, and must be controlled through storm water management techniques. With low impact development these techniques can offer developers a more cost effective way to address storm water management through site design modifications. These strategies allow land to be developed in an environmentally responsible manner that will save water and energy.
Surprisingly, by just replacing old fixtures in homes and businesses with water-efficient fixtures, we could save about 100 million kWh of electricity per year and avoid adding 80,000 tons of greenhouse gas to the atmosphere. So, if you want to be more energy-efficient start by conserving your water use today.