The report by the Energy Saving Trust and the Environment Agency said carbon emissions from hot water could overtake emissions from space heating in new homes unless action is taken.
Ian Barker, the Environment Agency's Head of Water, said: “Currently, six per cent of the UK’s annual carbon emissions are related to water use – nearly 90% of that is from hot water use in the home. It’s clear we need to find ways of being smarter with the way we use hot water.”
Increasing insulation levels mean hot water use will increasingly dominate the carbon footprint of new homes and the joint study says higher efficiency standards and regulations are needed to deal with the issue.
The growing popularity of power showers and frequent showering also mean households are still using the same amount of water today as they were 10 years ago despite advances in water-saving technology and the introduction of new sustainability standards
The three key recommendations of the report are:
Retrofit – water efficiency measures must be introduced in refurbishment programmes by planners and developers to include water efficiency measures in energy-efficiency retrofit programmes because this would save water and energy as well as cut emissions.
Building Regulations – Hot water system design regulations need the same level of detail as existing building and ventilation design.
Campaign on energy efficiency – simple changes need to be highlighted
Other issues covered included:
The need for improvements in pipe layout and insulation
The demand for better boiler design
The issue of water use is growing in importance as the Environment Agency predicts climate change will lead to the amount of water available in England and Wales in 2050 will drop by an average of 15 per cent, and up to as much as 80 per cent during summer months.
Magda Styles, Water and Waste Strategy Manager at the Energy Saving Trust, said: “We undertook this research to pinpoint the exact areas in the home where water use is consuming most energy. The results show that if we are serious about reducing energy in the home then we must include reducing energy used from hot water.”
The report, ‘Quantifying the Energy and Carbon Effects of Saving Water’, can be viewed or downloaded at www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/waterreport