The Water-Energy Convergence—Hard at Work in a Laundry Room Near You

Water is essential for our daily lives, whether used for drinking, sanitation, industrial processing, irrigation, or power generation. And every step in the water supply process uses energy. If you install a washing machine that uses less water, you’re also saving energy. If you install a dryer that requires less energy to run, you’re saving water, too. In other words, your laundry room offers an example of the water-energy convergence at its finest!

What it comes down to is this; we cannot have water without energy, nor energy without water… water is necessary for energy production and energy is needed for water pumping, treatment and recycling. Or, by definition of nexus, water and energy are bound together. Therefore, you can see why it’s impossible to have a washer and dryer without both of these precious resources.

The water-energy convergence brings up a common theme in our water conservation discussions: collaboration. There is no denying that water and energy are two of the most vital resources on the planet. There is also no denying that over-consumption and depletion of these resources is a major concern. Energy and water companies certainly realize this—as well as the critical importance of both industries working together to reduce their consumption of one resource in the production of another.

Just as other industries have been “going green” in recent years, the water industry has likewise developed ways to use its resources more efficiently. A growing appreciation of the nexus among companies and policymakers is starting to produce greater efficiency efforts and innovation.  At American Water, approximately 90 percent our own energy consumption used for pumping water—from its initial source, to and through treatment facilities and on to customers.  Why does it takes so much energy to pump water?  Because water IS HEAVY!  The average American home has about A TON of water delivered to its taps every day.  American Water continually looks for ways we can increase energy efficiency and advance sustainability of both water and energy resources. In fact, over the past six years, we’ve replaced about 200 pumps and motors, an effort expected to yield an energy savings of around 17 million kilowatt-hours annually and reduce our carbon emissions by 25 million pounds per year.

The strain on available energy and water resources is a global challenge—and a shared responsibility of governments, businesses, industries, and consumers. Understanding and respecting the water-energy convergence will continue to lead to more efficient uses of conventional energy sources as well as innovations utilizing new, renewable energy sources.