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Water and Energy – The Future

by Doug Pushard

As we enter another year of uncertainty, many questions revolve around access and sustainability of our water and energy sources. Will the drought end? Will fire impact our watershed? Will the river flow this summer? Will the monsoons happen? How much will my utility bills go up this year due to increasing summer temperatures?

Conservation has been a big part of the solution to our ever-increasing energy and water appetites. Cities and private utilities across the country, including Santa Fe and PNM, have implemented conservation programs in an effort to reduce consumption, and they have played a role in reducing our daily intake.

However, technology has also played a key role in both water and energy usage. Old washing machines used up to 35 gallons per load whereas new ones can use as little as 6.5 gallons. Old faucets and shower heads could use more than five gallons a minute; now new EPA WaterSense approved aerators can use as little as one gallon a minute.

It is no different on the energy side. Old light bulbs used 4 times more energy than the newer CFLs and almost 10 times as the newer LED bulbs. New hot water heaters can save from 20-40% over older models. Improved efficiencies and lower prices (due to improved manufacturing efficiencies) have helped in part to drive down photovoltaic prices and thus spur demand for solar energy. In fact, solar photovoltaic cell cost has dropped an astonishingly 99% since 1977.

In addition to technological advancements, improvements in efficiency as well as re-using and recycling have reduced our overall water and energy footprints.

Over the last decade prices for energy and water have gone up faster than the rate of inflation and this trend will likely continue. What alternative do we have for water, electricity or gas? New technologies are essential if we are to continue reducing our carbon and water footprint.

Technology alone can get us only so far. Behavior changes will also be required to sustain our ever-increasing population. As our population increases, it becomes ever more and more essential that we reduce our water and energy footprints. Technology can reduce the immediate pain of this transition as we all get used to a “new normal” of using less.

Links:

Related Webpage: EPA WaterSense
Related Article: Other Energy Water Nexus Articles
Related Book: Your Water Footprint
Related Article: Other Water Conservation Articles
Related Tool: Simple Conservation Payback Comparison Tool

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