A significant amount of energy is required to operate pressurised water distribution systems, and therefore, improving their efficiency is crucial. Traditionally, more emphasis has been placed on operational losses (pumping inefficiencies, excess leakage or friction in pipes) than on structural (or topographic) losses, which arise because of the irregular (unchangeable) terrain on which the system is located and the network’s layout. Hence, modifying the network to adopt an ecologically friendly layout is the only way to reduce structural losses. With the aim of improving the management of water distribution systems and optimising their energy use, this work audits and classifies water networks’ structural losses (derived from topographic energy), which constitutes the main novelty of this paper. Energy can be recovered with PATs (pumps as turbines) or removed through PRVs (pressure reducing valves). The proposed hydraulic analysis clarifies how that energy is used and identifies the most suitable strategy for improving efficiency as locating the most suitable place to install PRVs or PATs. Two examples are discussed to illustrate the relevance of this analysis.