Now it’s water’s turn to get smart.
Homes have been getting progressively smarter over recent years, but the first “intelligence” introduced into the home came from products like controlled lighting and gadgets to monitor heating and air conditioning or security.
But in recent years the plumbing industry has seen entrepreneur interest in several water monitoring systems, including FLUID and Flo.
In this post, we look at Flo, a comprehensive water monitoring and control system with leak detection and proactive leak prevention technologies. Via a smartphone “dashboard”, Flo provides homeowners the ability to control water remotely while empowering and even “game-ifying” or making conservation efforts fun and informative.
This information is presented to give homeowners a basic understanding of recent plumbing innovations as they consider service, repair, and upgrades working with a Decatur or Hartselle, AL plumber or plumbing contractor.
We realize many of the plumbing innovation and technology products we’ve discussed — now or in past posts — are brand new or are conceptual and subject to change from original specifications. Heck, some of the companies go out of business not long after they start up.
While products and companies may be introduced and/or go out of business, the fact remains that technology is invading plumbing — just like it has lighting, air conditioning and heating, and security — and that efforts are ongoing to improve water use.
A few facts and figures to put water use — and the importance of monitoring — in some sort of perspective.
- Let’s smart with your morning shower. That’s about 30 gallons of water used. Add in a spouse and a teenager — that’s another 30 gallons each — or up to 100 gallons total just in cleaning ourselves.
- You flush the toilet a few times a day? That’s another four or five gallons, depending on the type of toilet used in the home. Run the dishwasher once a day? Run the washing machine two or three times a day? That’s even more water usage.
- The average American consumes 80 to 100 gallons each during the day, or the equivalent of around 700 half-liter water bottles. And that does not include outdoor water usage for sprinklers and hoses. Some estimate that a family of four uses 400 gallons or more of water each day.
For the most part, homeowners think very little about the water they use, how they consume it, how they depend on it. As consumers their relationship with water is the monthly utility bill and calling a Decatur or Hartselle, AL plumber when a repair is needed or they’re upgrading the plumbing infrastructure or doing a kitchen makeover.
Americans, however, are become more aware of the severity of droughts throughout the United States or the plight of states like California, in which the snow accumulation levels (a major supplier of water) has plunged to a 500-year low. One industry group estimates that the cost of water is getting more expensive (by 4 to 6 percent a year).
Monitoring and reducing personal water usage is not sexy or an easy task. You can reduce a shower by five minutes, saving several gallons of water a day. You, sometimes with the help of your Decatur or Hartselle, AL plumber, can make modifications to the home’s plumbing ecosystem to save water, but are the savings really that significant. What about your neighbor — Is he doing his part to save water?
Say Hello to Flo
Flo’s device installs on your home’s main water supply after the water meters and pressure regulator. It provides:
- Continuous monitoring. The Flo device continuously tests flow, pressure, and temperature of all water entering the home, while learning the habits and analyzing consumption.
- Protective Leak Detection. Flo’s proprietary system runs automatic tests to identify abnormalities before they become a problem.
- Immediate Action. Direct control of the water valve allows homeowners to take action immediately in the case of a critical leak. Flo can turn off the water automatically, reducing the chance of a catastrophic event when you’re away from home.
- Flo provides a mobile app interface for tests, alerts, and controls. Instead of looking for Facebook “Likes” and Twitter “mentions,” you’ll be checking your daily water stats to see how much water you’re conserving. Think that’s silly? Just look at the number of people around wearing FitBit activity trackers and counting the number of steps they take daily.
Yeah, given the right circumstances, quality product, interface, and incentives, people will do almost anything techy these days for their health or their home.
Will FLO Work? Do People Care About Water Monitoring?
One biggest obstacle to the success of Flo or any new technology product, especially in an industry like plumbing, is there isn’t any solid evidence that consumer awareness of utility usage leads to significantly reduced consumption. That’s an important distinction because utility usage is a lot different than steps and turning lights on and off to save energy.
In the late 2000s, utilities began installing “smart meters” in homes throughout the U.S. These monitored energy instead of water, but the results were initially disappointing.
However, those “smart meters” were not devices that let consumers directly learn about their energy usage, what it means, and how they can make changes and see results in real time. Consumers are becoming more comfortable with technology that can help save property damage, money on monthly utility bills, as well as valuable resources — be they electricity or water.