Report calls for action on power showers

Hot water use could take over from old boilers and poorly lagged pipes as the main cause of carbon emissions from people's homes, according to an influential report.

A joint study by the Energy Saving Trust and the Environment Agency released yesterday (27 July) says emissions from hot water use will increasingly dominate the carbon footprint of new fully insulated housing, unless ‘progressive regulation in energy efficiency is matched by higher water efficiency standards’.

The report says despite advances in water-saving technology and the introduction of ‘sustainability standards’ for new housing, the growing popularity of power showers and frequent showering means people are still using the same amount of water today as we were ten years ago.

The report, Quantifying the energy and carbon effects of saving water, claims the majority of UK residents are using about 150 litres of water a day.

To reduce emissions the emissions from this use, the report calls for local authority planners and housing developers to include water efficiency measures in energy-efficiency retrofit programmes because this would save water and energy as well as cut emissions.

It wants to see the Government review the regulatory framework for hot water system design to incorporate a similar level of detail to that given to building and ventilation design.

And, on a personal level recommends everyone makes simple changes, such as washing up dishes in a bowl rather than under a running hot water tap, because even small actions can reduce energy bills and save money.

The Environment Agency’s head of water, Ian Barker, said: “Water is a precious resource and as the Government outlined in last week’s Low Carbon Transition Plan we urgently need to cut carbon emissions to help reduce the impact of future climate change.

“Currently, 6% of the UK’s annual carbon emissions are related to water use – nearly 90% of that is from hot water use in the home. It’s clear we need to find ways of being smarter with the way we use hot water.”

The Energy Saving Trust’s water and waste strategy manager, Magda Styles, said: “We undertook this research to pinpoint the exact areas in the home where water use is consuming most energy.

“The results show that if we are serious about reducing energy in the home then we must include reducing energy used from hot water.”

Luke Walsh

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie