With a carbon footprint comes a water footprint. Every time you turn on the light switch, not only are you consuming energy and adding to your carbon footprint, you are also increasing your water footprint. Electricity production requires tremendous volumes of water to power steam-generated turbines and to cool equipment. In fact, more than half the total water withdrawals in the U.S. each year feed our electrical grid. In some regions of the country, these withdrawals for electricity production are contributing to water stress.
The volume of water required depends upon the energy source. A recent study by The River Network, Burning Our Rivers: The Water Footprint of Electricity, estimates that it requires between zero and 231 gallons of water per megawatt-hour of electricity produced using wind and PV solar technology, and between 14,811 and 440,000 gallons per megawatt-hour for hydropower, coal and nuclear. On average, the water footprint of the electricity we use is about 42 gallons per kilowatt-hour (or 42,000 gallons per megawatt-hour), and the monthly energy use of the average household translates to nearly 40,000 gallons of water—five times the direct water use of that same household.
Conserving energy—turning off lights, insulating your hot water heater, and using Energy Star appliances—then, conserves water. This week’s Taking on Water Challenge is to switch out just one incandescent bulb for an energy-efficient LED or compact fluorescent one, saving about 42 gallons of water per week, or almost 2,200 gallons per year.
For more information see:
See introductory information on the Taking on Water Challenge: Reduce your Water Footprint here, the Week 1 Challenge: Eat Less Meat here, and the Week 2 Challenge: Waste Less Food here. To enter to win the Taking on Water Challenge, pledge to decrease your water footprint by leaving a comment.
Full official contest rules and guidelines are here. Contest begins January 29, 2013. Entries must be received no later than March 11, 2013, 11:59:59 PM Pacific Time.
• Enter for the chance to win a copy of Taking on Water and a water reduction kit for your home (Approximate Retail Value $130).
• No purchase necessary.
• Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia, ages 18 or older.
• Contest begins January 29, 2013. Entries must be received no later than March 11, 2013, 11:59:59 PM Pacific Time.
• The winner will be selected on or about March 15, 2013.
• Void where prohibited by law.
Entries must be made in the comments section on Wendy Pabich’s blog, www.waterdeva.com. Entries must include the following (Incomplete entries will not be considered):
▪ Name (first and last)
▪ Email Address
▪ A brief comment pledging to decrease your water footprint
Optional: A link to a blog post or photograph can be included, but is not necessary for entry.