Study of Linked Water and Natural Gas Demand

Residential water use is tied to natural gas expenditures.

The Regents of the University of California on behalf of the Berkeley campus


Berkeley, CA

Recipient Location


Senate District


Assembly District



Amount Spent



Project Status

Project Result

Researchers calculated the embedded energy in outdoor water use and showed a significant degree of heterogeneity across districts, which is driven by conversion factors and differences in outdoor use. In the most energy intensive district, this adds 31% to the average household's energy use. In the least energy intensive district, the added energy use is negligible. Research found that in high consumption areas with an energy intensive water supply, reducing outdoor watering might lead to nonnegligible reductions in overall energy use. The methods developed in this study allows for targeting of such a potential policy to achieve maximum returns.

The Issue

This project addresses water and energy conservation behavior from the perspective of natural gas ratepayers. It has previously been hypothesized that natural gas pricing may influence water conservation and vice versa. Unpacking that theory depends on having access to household level data for water and natural gas consumption, along with pricing. This project will use empirical evidence and economic analysis to better understand energy and water conservation behavior and ultimate make suggestions for how to encourage energy savings when necessary.

Project Innovation

The purpose of this project is to provide foundational information, based on empirical evidence, of the interlinkages between water and natural gas consumption among end use residential customers. The study provides a set of estimated trends on natural gas, electricity, and water. It also provides estimates of the water, price, income and conservation technology sensitivity of residential water demand using the collected data. Further outcomes will include estimates of energy cost of federal preemption for energy efficiency standards and water-district level estimates of baseline irrigation water consumption and embedded energy using CPUC energy estimates.

Project Benefits

A persistent barrier to achieving the State's Statutory Energy Goals related to energy efficiency is the lack of useable and accurate information about how residential energy consumers actually behave. This project addresses one particular aspect of this barrier, by breaking down the relationship between price, natural gas, and water consumption at the household level.

Environmental & Public Health

Environmental Sustainability

By quantifying linkages between residential demand for water and natural gas and examining the potential for joint conservation, this project will facilitate coordination of efforts to conserve water and natural gas and enable prioritization of measures that provide benefits in both areas in order to efficiently meet energy conservation goals.

Key Project Members

Project Member

Maximillian Auffhammer


Contact the Team