Abstract for: Understanding household energy-water urban nexus metabolism in Cape Town

Patterns of energy and water consumption in urban metabolism studies have generally been examined independently rather than in their nexus and at macro scales. This study assessed the household energy-water urban nexus metabolism of Cape Town to identify intervention points for energy and water savings. This was achieved by reviewing literature to conceptualize energy and water nexus flows and developing a system dynamics model for the articulated problem. Results indicated that personal hygiene is a high leverage intervention point for energy and water savings in their nexus across all household income groups. To make energy and water requirements more sustainable, decisions makers’ focus regarding minimizing energy and water in their nexus could be towards changing personal hygiene behaviour and reshaping energy and water consumption patterns. Installation of solar water heaters is recommended as this would alleviate electricity requirement to heat water in combination with active behavioural changes. This research presents a methodological contribution to conceptualize and model the energy-water urban nexus metabolism at a household level. However, a key finding was that the model was unable to capture smaller behaviours of the system. Approaches that are able to include finer grained behavioural dynamics would be useful.