Action needed to reduce domestic hot water carbon emissions


Ian Barker,
Environment Agency
Head of Water
London, U.K. — (METERING.COM) — July 30, 2009 – Hot water use will remain a major cause of domestic carbon emissions in the United Kingdom, and could even overtake emissions from heating in new homes, unless action is taken to reduce demand and energy losses from inefficient boilers and poorly lagged pipes, according to a new report.

The report, a joint study from the U.K.’s Energy Saving Trust and the Environment Agency, predicts that 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.

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 that households are still using the same amount of water today as ten years ago – around 150 litres per person per day.

In order to reduce emissions from domestic hot water use, the report calls for a review of the regulatory framework for hot water system design to incorporate a similar level of detail to that given to building and ventilation design on, and for planners and developers to include water efficiency measures in energy efficiency retrofit programs as this would save water and energy as well as cut emissions.

In addition there should be improvements in pipe layout and insulation for reducing energy and water waste while waiting for hot water at the tap, and continued improvements in boiler design to make them more energy efficient.

The report also notes that water metering results in lower CO2 emissions as well as lower water use.

Water resources in certain parts of the U.K. are already under pressure. The Environment Agency predicts the amount of water available in England and Wales in 2050 will drop by an average 15 per cent, and up to as much as 80 per cent during summer months, as a result of climate change.

“Water is a precious resource and we urgently need to cut carbon emissions to help reduce the impact of future climate change,” said the Environment Agency’s head of water, Ian Barker. “Currently, six percent of the UK’s annual carbon emissions are related to water use, of which nearly 90 percent 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.”

Magda Styles, water and waste strategy manager at the Energy Saving Trust, added that the research was undertaken 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.”

A pilot study integrating water efficiency with energy advice is to be launched in September at three Energy Saving Trust advice centers in London, Cardiff and Edinburgh.