The Correlation Between Water and Energy Usage

Drought is no stranger to Texas, and its effects are particularly noticeable as we reach the end of the warm season when our lakes, trees, and lawns are parched after months of intense heat and little rain. While the few storms we got this summer were a welcome blessing, the relief they brought was relatively superficial and short-lived. And the drought conditions aren’t isolated to Texas. In fact, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), about 63 percent of the contiguous United States was experiencing moderate to exceptional drought at the end of July.

While we can see the effects drought has on our water supplies as lake levels in parts of Texas remain well below historical averages, fewer people recognize the link between drought and energy use. A recent New York Times article written by Dr. Michael E. Webber shared that more water is used by the energy sector in the U.S. than by agriculture!

The electricity sector is the largest industrial water consumer in the U.S. – accounting for 48% of water withdrawals and 39% of freshwater withdrawals. Nuclear and coal plants in particular consume a lot of water.

Water is required to produce energy and energy is required to collect, treat and distribute clean water. So, energy usage = water usage and vice versa.  The good news is that renewable energy uses significantly less water resources during production than nuclear or coal plants.  But you can still help do your part – by conserving water you’re also reducing the need for energy to treat, pump, and heat that water, and when you consume less electricity usage less water is used. 

Find new, creative ways to save water with the Water Use It Wisely: 100 Ways To Conserve Water list. Some tips include:

  • Run your clothes washer and dishwasher only when they are full. You can save up to 1,000 gallons of water a month.
  • For cold drinks, keep a pitcher of water in the refrigerator instead of running the tap. This way, every drop goes to you and not to the drain.
  • Shorten your shower by a minute or two and you could save up to 150 gallons per month
  • Next time you add or replace a flower or shrub in your yard, choose a low water use plant for year-round landscape color and you could save a few hundred gallons each year.

For tips on how you can save energy at home, visit the Green Mountain’s Energy Saver Center page.