Primer

The Embodied Energy of Tap Water

A third of the annual energy bill paid by a municipality goes toward water treatment. Here’s why clean water uses so much energy.

100 gallons of potable water—the amount used daily by the average person at home in the U.S.—takes about 1.1 kWh of energy to treat and distribute, according to a 2011 study by researchers at the University of South Florida. That’s a lot more energy than an efficient refrigerator uses in a day.

The study didn’t even take into account the energy used for heating water or for treating wastewater. That number is just the embodied energy of the water as it’s delivered to the tap by the utility.

Published September 8, 2015