ENERGY SOLUTIONS: Each flush sends energy right down the drain

NANAIMO – Quite apart from the loss to nature, wasting water costs us.

How much energy is used every time we flush a toilet?

Seems like a strange question at first. Unless you live on an acreage and have to pump your water to flush that toilet, most of us enjoy water that is mostly pressurized by the relative height of the dams.

Yet water requires a lot of energy. Consider this time of the year, when the water is at its coldest temperature; it requires a lot more energy to heat it up.

Even the lowly toilet is extracting heat from the bathroom every time it re-fills  – more than we likely could imagine.

Another surprising place in which water consumes energy is at the tail end of the process: every litre of waste water we create requires energy to process it before releasing the liquid back into the environment.

Quite apart from the loss to nature, wasting water costs us.

Then there are the larger costs. Having to build more dams and related infrastructure is pricey. In the next few years we will be paying quite a bit more for water should another dam be built (as is predicted).

Since nearly 40 per cent of the water we use in homes is consumed by toilets alone, it is understandable why the City of Nanaimo offers incentives to replace the old units  – that use a whopping 12 litres each flush – with the new ones using about half that amount.

Presently the city is putting together a revised water conservation plan. Increasing the user rates is the most effective method; otherwise we too easily take drinking water for granted.

Yet many of us would be willing to do our part if we had the necessary tools. Other municipalities have provided such tools in the form of water-saving toilet adaptor devices, tap aerators, incentives for commercial and industrial users, and education.

Energy Solutions for Vancouver Island is committed to the educational component, and may be involved this summer in helping us take further steps.

Want to find out more about our water? Bill Sims is the head of the city’s water infrastructure, and will be our guest on March 10 at a free public event.

He will outline what the city has done to save water, and some of what may be coming down the pipe. His presentation starts at 1 p.m. at Brechin United Church, 1998 Estevan Rd.


Ian Gartshore chairs the non-profit Energy Solutions for Vancouver Island.