Efforts to save water in California during the drought not only did just that, but also saved an astonishing amount of electricity and along with it, greenhouse gas emissions. Between June 2015 and April 2016, residents of the state saved 524,000 million gallons of water and 1,830 gigawatt hours of energy, the latter of which led to a reduction of 521,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

That was equivalent to taking 110,000 cars off the road for a year:

So, how did all these savings come to be?

California has what Spang describes as “energy intensive water.” The amount of energy required to extract the water we use, treat it and distribute it varies depending on where in California you live, but overall, it is quite high.

Spang and his colleagues cite previous work that found that roughly 19% of California’s electricity demand is related to the pumping, conveying, distributing, heating and treatment of water. So when residents use less water, the state uses less electricity.

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