Does how much water I use impact my electricity bill?

Did you know that current data indicates that, by some estimates, more than 20% of all energy consumption in the United States is utilized in pumping water?

Costs for electricity keep rising with increasing demand and increasing power generation costs. As the costs for electricity supplied from utilities spiral every upward; residential, agricultural, commercial and homeowner sectors are looking for ways to minimize the costs associated with pumping water. If the water that you use comes from a municipal water supply it may not impact your electricity bill at all, however, your water bill will be impacted by increase water usage. Municipalities build the cost of the electricity it takes to pump, treat and monitor the water they provide into their consumer rates. The more water they must provide, the higher costs, the higher your rates.

If the water you use comes from a well and pump then your electric bill is dramatically impacted by how much water you utilize! Look on your pump controller and find out how many horsepower (HP) your pump is. At current electrical rate schedules each horsepower costs between $0.10 and $.20 per hour to run. This means if you have a 5 horsepower pump and it needs to run 5 hours a day to meet your irrigation and household needs you could be spending up to $5 per day or about $150 a month to power your well pump!

You might be asking yourself, “Is there anything I can do do decrease how much electricity my well pump equipment uses?” The good news is that there are several things that you can do to save electricity!

1) Check for leaks. Leaks mean that water is being pumped and the pump is using electricity to supply those leaks. Wet spots are a good indicator of a leak, as are toilets that run constantly. Visit your pump equipment and make sure you do it at a time when there is no water being used for showering, irrigation, washing dishes or ice-makers. The well pump equipment should be off and STAY off. Plan to hang out at the well equipment site with a good book for 20-30 minutes and keep an ear on the equipment. If it is turning on and running, it is trying to supply water and your next job is to find out where the water is going.

2) Check your irrigation system by running the stations manually and ensuring that each valve works properly and shuts off completely Often irrigation valves have debris in them and need to be cleaned in order to work properly.

3) Landscaping and gardens use the lions share of water and, in our experience, are responsible for the most wasted water. Because irrigation often happens at night, leaks are often culprits because they aren’t noticed. Overwatering your garden and lawn are just as problematic as leaks and waste both water and electricity. Water should not be spraying on roads or sidewalks. The nozzles, sprays and drips should be checked to ensure proper operation and size for your application. A smart irrigation controller like the Hunter Hydrawise can help ensure proper watering on hot and cool days and minimize water and electricity waste by looking at local weather and making adjustments as necessary. If you utilize a landscaping contractor they should be able to answer some important questions such as: How much water do I use on a daily basis? How much water does each station use each day? How much water do my plants actually need? They may need to check some documentation to get you the correct answers, but if they shrug their shoulders and say “I don’t know.” It is very likely they just turn stations on by the seat of their pants, overwater and hope to keep everything green and you happy. You shouldn’t be happy, you should be looking for another landscaping contractor that knows their craft and practices it with competence and confidence.

4) Wasting electricity during water pumping often happens when pumping equipment is old, damaged or simply the wrong device installed for a job. “Well, a pump is just a pump isn’t it?” Actually, there are many different kinds of pumps and sizes of pumps. If the wrong type or size of pump is installed it may very well pump plenty of water with plenty of pressure, but it may use an enormous amount of electricity to pump that water! In lay terms it means you have a very inefficient pump system. If the correct pump is installed it could use as much as 50% less electricity than an incorrectly sized/selected pump for your application. Even if the correct pump is installed for your application and it runs several hours a day for 10 or 15 years, it is more than likely that the pump and pump system components experience significant wear or corrosion and the pump equipment is no longer pumping efficiently. In some instances homeowners have called us to check their pumping equipment because their electricity bill doubled or tripled from the previous month. This is often due to a leak, often in the pipe in the well or a failed check valve. Some utility providers will allow you to set up alerts in the event that large quantities of electricity are being used and we recommend that our customers with well/pump systems take advantage of this opportunity if it is available.

5) If the well pump you use fills a storage tank, and the storage tank is suitably sized to be able to supply your demand for water, you might be able to benefit from “time of use” electricity metering. Many utilities charge different rates for electricity depending on the time of day electricity is used. By filling your storage tank only during the “off peak” or “cheap” time of the day you can save significantly on utility charges. Alternately, you might be able to change your watering schedule for your landscape or garden to take advantage of the off peak electricity rates. Oakville Pump Service can help you if you have questions about implementing this type of solution.

6) Pump your water as few times as possible. Many water systems include many pumps that pump the same water multiple times. Take, for example, a system OPS helped revise for a large Hospital. As you read, note the number of times "pumped" is used in the description of the old system. “Water comes from springs located up in the foothills and travels in pipes to the hospital where it is stored in an underground storage tank. The water was then pumped to a second underground storage tank where it was then pumped up to an elevated storage tank. From the elevated storage tank the water gravity feeds the hospital compound and then travels down hill to a nursing school where the water was held in an underground storage tank. This water was then pumped to a second underground storage tank from where it was then pumped to another elevated storage tank.” For users at the very end the water was "pumped" FOUR times! The tragic part of this scenario is that the water would never need to be pumped even once if the water system had been properly laid out or installed in the first place! OPS was able to cut the number of times the water was pumped down to two because complete system replacement was not feasible. Are there ways that your water system can utilize gravity or modify operations to eliminate unnecessary pumping?

At Oakville Pump Service our technicians know how to check to see if your pump system is operating efficiently and can help you check for leaks if you suspect you have some water and electricity being wasted. Give us a call at (707)944-2471 if we can help you save electricity today!