Benjamin Franklin did Not Discover Electricity

This week’s blog is from Laurie Loftin, with credit given to EPA WaterSense as a guest blogger

During a thunderstorm the last thing I want to do is fly a kite, but on this day (June 10) in 1752 Benjamin Franklin did just that.  Contrary to popular myth, Franklin did not discover electricity.  This happened thousands of years earlier.  According to the Franklin Institute, his kite experiment proved his theory that lightning is an electric current in nature. This current is created within the water cycle.  Water droplets, in the process of evaporation and condensation, repeatedly collide into each other to create a charge separation resulting in positive and negative ions.  Think of the static electricity you create by rubbing a balloon against your head.  Eventually these negative charges at the bottom of the cloud attract to the positive charges on the ground and KABOOM!  You have observed electricity created with the help of the amazing water cycle.

Lightning is not the only way to see electricity made with the help of water.  Look at your computer screen, listen to the music playing through your speakers, and feel the cool air in your climate controlled room.  All of these are possible with electricity…and water.  Generating electricity relies on water to cool towers.  Water is necessary to refine fossil fuels and grow crops for bio-fuels.  The power industry’s demand for water is second only to agriculture.  In turn, we must have electricity to treat, heat, and deliver clean water to our homes.

Though we generally don’t want water and electricity to mix, these two elements intertwine.  Today’s blog combines a page from the EPA’s WaterSense website.  They invite you to Make the Drops-to-Watts Connection:

It’s Time for a New Way to Think About Water and Energy
plug With climate change concerns, pervasive droughts, and high energy prices across the country, nearly everyone is looking for ways to conserve resources and cut costs. By looking for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) WaterSense® label, your family can use less water, energy, and money while ensuring product performance.

Many Americans know about the importance of saving energy and water. But few know about the drops to watts connection—that it takes energy to pump, heat, treat, and deliver the water we use every day. We turn on the bathroom lights and the shower without realizing how closely related water and energy are to each other.

Drops & Watts: You Can’t Have One Without the Other
dishwasherOn average, the annual energy used to deliver and treat water for only 10 households could power a refrigerator for more than two years. In some areas of the country, that estimate is very low. Heating water for showering, bathing, shaving, cooking, and cleaning also requires a considerable amount of energy. Homes with electric water heaters, for example, spend one-fourth of their total electric bills just to heat water.

How Can We Start Saving?
One of the simplest ways to save both water and energy is to install water–efficient products. WaterSense water senselabeled products not only save water, but can help reduce your energy bills. Installing WaterSense labeled faucet aerators in your bathrooms, for example, costs just a few dollars but could save you enough electricity to dry your hair every day for a year!

You can choose from thousands of models of WaterSense labeled plumbing products. What’s more, you can be sure the products will not only save resources, but will perform well. All WaterSense labeled products are tested and independently certified to ensure they meet EPA’s criteria for both efficiency and performance.

Start saving both water and energy! Look for WaterSense labeled products and ENERGY STAR® qualified appliances that use water. For more information, visit


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