Abstract

As part of the Net Zero Carbon Water Cycle Program (NZCWCP) for Victoria state in Australia, we have sought to understand the potential to reduce household energy consumption and related Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions by influencing water use. Digital metering data disaggregated into 57 million discrete water usage events across 105 households at a resolution of 10 millilitres at 10 second intervals from June 2017 to March 2020, from a previous Yarra Valley Water (Melbourne, Australia) study, was analysed, together with the dynamic relationship between the multiple energy sources (natural gas, grid electricity, solar) used to heat water for showers in each hour of the day. Water-related energy (WRE) use, including water desalination and treatment, pumping, heating, wastewater collection and treatment, comprised 12.6% of Australia’s primary energy use in 2019. Water heating (by natural gas and electricity) comprised the largest component of WRE use for across residential, commercial, and industrial sectors. Furthermore, 69% of Victoria’s total water usage was by residential customers in 2020-2021. WRE GHG emissions were around 3.8% of Victoria’s total GHG emissions in 2018. Showers (~50% of residential WRE), system losses (~27% of residential WRE), and clothes washers (~9% of residential WRE) are the three largest components of WRE consumption. The main objective of this work is the creation of industry-accessible tools to improve knowledge and management options from the understanding of reductions in cost and GHG emissions from household showering WRE use. Potential options considered, to reduce water and energy use, as well as associated GHG emissions and customer utility bills, include (a) behaviour management such as water and energy pricing to change time of use behaviours, and (b) the adoption of efficient shower head improvements. Shower WRE and GHG emissions were found able to be strongly impacted by small changes in daily routines. GHG emissions reduction from showering could be reduced up to 20 (in summer) - 22% (in winter) by shifting demand time of showering or replacing residential showerheads. Extrapolated to state and Australian scales, reductions in water usage could be up to 14 GL (Victoria) and 144 GL (Australia), and reductions in GHG emissions 1,600 ktCO2eq (Victoria) and 17,300 ktCO2eq (Australia). It provides fundamental new information which could inform a suite of new management options to impact water-related energy from showers, and related GHG emissions and customer water and energy cost.

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