Drought is a Business Opportunity

August 1, 2012
By

Lucid Design's enterprise-grade energy monitor offers water monitor, though there are other ways to help customers save water.

Much of the United States is mired in drought conditions, which is not only uncomfortable but is having an effect on food prices as crops in the Midwest wilt. But how are drought and water shortages related to energy efficiency?

A New York Times article explains:

Our energy system depends on water. About half of the nation’s water withdrawals every day are just for cooling power plants. In addition, the oil and gas industries use tens of millions of gallons a day, injecting water into aging oil fields to improve production, and to free natural gas in shale formations through hydraulic fracturing. Those numbers are not large from a national perspective, but they can be significant locally.

All told, we withdraw more water for the energy sector than for agriculture. Unfortunately, this relationship means that water problems become energy problems that are serious enough to warrant high-level attention.

Woa! Half our water withdrawals cool power plants? Holy smoke! Or maybe a lot less smoke. Conventional coal plants are very thirsty, the Times reports, and coal still produces about 40 percent of our electricity.

Homeowners can do plenty around their homes to save water, such as using Energy Star-rated appliances like clothes and dishwashers that use less electricity and water; use low-flow WaterSense-labeled showerheads, bathroom faucets, aerators that fit on faucets and low-flow and dual-flush toilets; invest in rainwater harvesting barrels or cisterns; install graywater recycling systems that use that water from washing for irrigation; install hot-water recirculators that prevent wasting cold water when you’re waiting for hot; install automated irrigation systems; refrain from long showers. This list goes on …

And you can also sell them technologies that help them save electricity, such as:

Again, the list goes on

Our idea isn’t to try to take advantage of a potential environmental calamity like some eco-carpetbagger. The idea is to get more people to save both water and electricity, which the Times article shows are inextricably linked. Save electricity in many parts of United States, and you will save water. And saving water can save the electricity it takes to heat it, if you’re using an electric water heater.

We’re written before about presenting your clients with home energy savings as a means to better national security and energy independence. And although oil is used in only a small percentage of electrical power plants in the United States, many respond to the patriotic message. Even more powerful is that the U.S. military is one of the biggest proponents of using alternative energies and being green to improve our national security.

Saving electricity to conserve our most precious resource of water should be no less powerful. It can even be more powerful—and you should be selling your clients on this, especially if they are exposed to drought conditions. Many exposed to drought in the United States today live in areas where coal is burned as a primary fuel for electricity and where simmering hot temperatures necessitate the relief of energy-intensive air-conditioning systems and pools that use energy-hungry pool pumps. You can help save them energy and money, and that in turn can help save water resources for their communities.

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