The imperative of saving water and energy is highlighted by this year’s wildfires that scorched parts of Northern, Central and Southern California; low water levels in reservoirs; the light snowpack’s early thaw that usually provides water supplies into late summer; uncertainty over how long water held in underground storage needs to last; heat spells; and signs of climate change. A drought threatens California’s economy and the safety of its residents. Because of the drought emergency, Gov. Jerry Brown has called on all Californians to prevent water waste and reduce water use by 20 percent.
Energy Upgrade California provides resources, tips and information to help Californians conserve water and reduce energy use. Water and its treatment, movement, extraction and heating in homes and businesses use nearly one-fifth of the energy consumed in California. Some steps to save water and energy include:
Installing low-flow shower heads and faucet aerators.
Taking shorter showers (five minutes or less).
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Running washing machines and dishwashers with full loads using only cold water.
Identifying and promptly repairing leaks (60 drips per minute from a leaky faucet wastes more than 3,153 gallons per year).
Taking a class on drought-tolerant landscaping offered free by many water agencies. Outdoor watering accounts for most of the water California households consume.
The energy sector is one of the largest users of water, as water is used for cooling and energy production. As such, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is examining the waterenergy nexus. The CPUC is working to identify best practices for water use and management, including using communicationsconnected sensors to measure and manage water and energy use and facilitate cost-effective measures that save water and energy. Actions that households can take to save energy and water include:
Closing the curtains to shield your home from the sun’s heat.
Unplugging cell phone chargers after phones are charged.
Using smart power strips for products that go into standby mode such as printers, DVD players, computers and plasma TVs to avoid drawing power when you’re not using the product.
Turning off your computer at night to use 50 percent less energy than the computer’s “sleep mode,” which is activated when the computer is not in use but remains ready all day and night.
Installing energy-efficient lights and appliances to embed energy savings.
Californians can visit http://EnergyUpgradeCA.org or follow Energy Upgrade California on Facebook and Twitter to learn about energy and water management, find rebates on energyefficient appliances and more. Your local water agency or utilities may provide discounted or free lowflow shower heads, aerators or other water-saving devices. Visit http://SaveOurH2O.org for more ideas on how to save water, and http://drought.ca.gov to learn more about steps California is taking to manage water resources and mitigate the drought’s consequences for our economy and public safety.
By taking steps to reduce water and energy consumption, together we can weather the drought, forestall climate change, protect our people and economy and keep California golden.
Catherine J.K. Sandoval serves on the California Public Utilities Commission.