The Link Between Water and Energy Conservation

This article first appeared in the Daily Progress.

Did you know that energy is needed to filter and treat the water we consume and then pump it into our homes and businesses? Additionally, energy is needed to heat water for cooking, bathing, and washing. Consequently, when we conserve water we also conserve energy.

Look for the WaterSense and Energy Star labels

The average adult uses approximately 80-100 gallons of water a day on routine activities like showering, cooking, and toileting, but there are simple measures we can take that can help conserve water and energy.

First, the use of certified ENERGY STAR appliances and WaterSense​ fixtures can immediately help to curb your household’s use of water and energy. Second, individual behavior changes can help to boost your savings even more. A summary of common water-using activities and conservation tips are below:

Activity Amount of Water Used Ways to Save
Bathing 35-50 gallons of water for small tubs and 60-80 gallons of water for large tubs Consider taking showers which use less water than bathing and/or not filling tubs to the maximum.
Showering 2.5 gallons a minute for standard showerheads Keep showering under 5 minutes and install a low-flow showerhead which uses no more than 2 gallons a minute but still delivers pressurized water. Look for the WaterSense label.
Washing Dishes by Hand > 2 gallons per minute for older kitchen faucets If you have an older kitchen faucet, install a faucet aerator or consider a WaterSense kitchen faucet which uses 1.5-2 gallons a minute. Prep your dishes beforehand by wiping off as much food scraps as possible. Use a wash basin for efficient washing. Finally, wash immediately after eating so food doesn’t dry on plates and utensils.
Washing Dishes with a Dishwasher 16 gallons per wash for older models Consider an ENERGY STAR model which uses 6 gallons or less per wash. Wash with full loads and use lightest setting that still gets the job done.
Washing Clothes 40 gallons per wash for older models Consider an ENERGY STAR model which uses 25 gallons per wash. Wash with full loads using cold water, and choose a light wash when possible. Consider reusing your towels a few times to reduce your laundry load.
Toileting 3-6 gallons per flush for older models Consider installing a WaterSense model which use no more than 1.6 gallons of water per flush. Occasionally, check for slow leaks by adding drops of dark food color into the tank. Check back in 15 minutes to see if the color has leaked into the bowl.
Landscape Watering 2 gallons or more a minute Consider installing a rain barrel to collect rainwater. Reuse leftover water from cooking by pouring it onto your outside plantings, and put leftover ice cubes from your drinks into your potted plants. Use mulch around plants to retain water. If your irrigation system is automatic, disable it when there’s been recent rain. Check the soil moisture 1” down to help decide when to irrigate.
Washing hands, face, and toothbrushing Up to 2.2 gallons a minute for older faucets Consider installing a WaterSense bathroom faucet which uses up to 1 gallon a minute or install faucet aerators to help reduce the waterflow. Fix leaky faucets immediately. One drip every second adds up to 5 gallons per day.

Source: Modified from USGS Water Science School

Incentives and Rebates

Many localities including the City of Charlottesville and Albemarle County offer special incentives and rebates for installing energy and water-saving appliances including low-flow toilets and rain barrels. Check their websites to find the latest offers.

Tax-Free Days for Energy and Water Conservation Products

During the Virginia Sales Tax Holiday (August 4-6, 2017), consumers will not be taxed on appliances and fixtures (e.g., washing machines, faucets, toilets, and more) that are certified ENERGY STAR and WaterSense. To find out what products apply for the sales tax holiday, visit Virginia’s Sales Tax Holiday website.

Want to find out ways you can save water and energy, just ask LEAP.


WaterSense Program
City of Charlottesville – Water Conservation
City of Charlottesville  – Environment Sustainability
Sustainability in Albemarle County
Virginia Sales Tax Holiday

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