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Expert alert: Australian households could save significantly on bills, energy use and greenhouse gas emissions through improved water efficiency

Monash University 2 mins read

A detailed analysis of over 20,000 households in Melbourne has identified significant greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, energy use and related costs that could be reduced via improved water efficiency.

Water use in Melbourne households accounts for 3.8 per cent of Melbourne's GHG emissions – similar to the total domestic and international travel of Australia.

Researchers from Monash University and The University of Queensland have indicated that a Melbourne-wide program entailing a simple shower head retrofit could reduce customer bills by $160 and lower GHG emissions by between 98 and226 kilo-tonnes per year, which equates to taking 21,000 to 49,000 cars off Melbourne roads.

The Net Zero Carbon Water Cycle (NZCWC) Program identifies technical, behavioural and enabling factors that lead to sustainable reductions in water related energy (electricity and gas) GHG emissions.

Researchers are calling for a holistic reevaluation of the current water cycle and are available to comment on a proposed pathway where the costs and benefits to consumers are considered, rather than just utilities, and for service providers to act on a different set of priorities that deliver genuine "least cost and energy" solutions.

Professor Liam Smith, Director of BehaviourWorks Australia, Monash University Sustainable Development Institute 
Contact: +61 3 9903 4840 or
Read more of Professor Smith’s commentary at The Conversation

The following can be attributed to Professor Smith:

“We explored which behaviours could result in the greatest water-related energy savings and found that showering behaviours such as installing an efficient shower head and reducing one's shower time by two minutes were both easy and effective.

“Other behaviours identified that helped mitigate costs included insulating pipes, installing a heat pump water system as well as a water and energy feedback meter in the shower.

Professor Steven Kenway, Australian Centre for Water Environmental Biotechnology and Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology, The University of Queensland 
Contact: +61 7 336 54170 or
Read more of Professor Kenway’s commentary at The Conversation

The following can be attributed to Professor Kenway:

“Australian households aren’t aware that heating water in their homes is the second largest energy demand, equating to around 40 per cent of an average household's energy use. The energy benefits of water efficiency are often hidden. As consumers we tend to only think of the savings to our water bills, when in reality our electricity and gas bills are also significantly impacted.

“Regulatory changes are needed to elevate the priority of water efficiency for the multiple benefits it creates.

“For the water sector, helping households reduce energy use by being more water efficient is a cheaper way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions than most current strategies currently being implemented.”

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For any other topics on which you may be seeking expert comment, contact the Monash University Media Unit on +61 3 9903 4840 or 

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