It’s no secret that water is a daily necessity. The sad reality is, water availability is limited in countries all over the world (and even within states all over the United States).1 While large-scale technology is being tested and deployed for water conservation in agriculture, consumer-level technology is also evolving to help you use your own water supply in a smarter, more efficient way.
Reducing your household’s water use can help your community manage limited water resources and save you money on your water bill. Who doesn’t want that?! Plus, some of the water-saving gadgets out there are not only intelligent but affordable, too.
Here’s a few to consider:
In the Shower
The average family uses nearly 40 gallons of water a day just for showering. In the U.S., the amount we use for showering every year could meet all the water needs of New Jersey AND New York for a year!2 You can reduce your water usage by installing a low-flow shower head. These range from very basic attachments to higher-tech, smart shower heads like one of these.
Smart shower heads let you monitor your water use from an app or from the shower itself. They all tout significant water reduction, and some offer additional features like slowing the flow when you move away from the shower head (to apply soap or shampoo), shutting off the flow once the water heats up (to waste less while waiting for the perfect temperature), and setting multiple profiles to track water use for everyone in the family. For maximum water conservation, start a competition to see who can clean up with the least amount of H₂O!
In the Kitchen
Feel like you’re always washing dishes? You’re not alone. Most of us feel like the dishes are never ending. The good news for those of us who don’t love scrubbing plates is that unless your dishwasher is more than a decade old, it’s probably more water efficient than washing by hand.3 And for those of us who love technology, smart dishwashers today can cut water waste by 30 percent or more.4 Smart dishwashers like these come with more perks than just efficiency. You can use your phone or home assistant to start a load, be alerted of leaks and automatically run the dishwasher during off-peak (or cheaper) energy hours. Some will even order more detergent for you when you run out!
Every time you turn on a faucet, you’re literally watching water run down the drain. We waste a lot waiting for the right temperature or changing tasks. One sure way to make your kitchen (or any room with a sink) more water-wise is to install a smart faucet. Some of these will look familiar - public restrooms have installed water-saving motion-sensor faucets for years. Opt for a similar model for your home or consider a web-connected spout. The options are wide - you can turn your faucet on and off with voice commands, program the temperature so it comes out exactly right (without pouring a bunch down the drain first) or purify your drinking water. Do you like your water a bit warmer than your spouse does? They even have faucets with facial recognition to automatically adjust to your preferred settings. Yeah…they’ve thought of everything!
In the Yard
Have you ever been out in a rainstorm and noticed your neighbor’s sprinklers going full blast? It’s an obvious waste of clean water. There are a few smart watering gadgets that can help manage water use even when you’re away from home during a downpour or you forget to check the forecast.
There are two basic gadgets for nipping outdoor water waste in the bud: a rain sensor, which shuts off your sprinkler cycle when it senses moisture; and a smart control for your sprinkler system, which connects to a wi-fi network to check local forecasts and adjust your watering schedule for best results. Good for the planet and your yard! You can find suggestions for a good rain sensor here, and if you want to go with a smart control, this list is a good starting point.
On a smaller scale, there are lots of handy gadgets to help you give your plants the care they need without overwatering. Plant sensors go into the soil with your plants to track anything from water levels to nutrients. There are products for potted plants and garden plots and even “smart pots” you put soil directly into! Check your local home improvement store for these.
Smart Buyer Tips
When choosing smart technology, there are a few things to keep in mind. So many different features are available, so take the time to find the products that best fit your yard. For example:
- Where do you want to put your control center? If it’s outdoors, make sure it’s weatherproof.
- Does the device you’ve chosen need to connect to the internet? If it does, and you’re putting it in a far corner of your yard (or somewhere far from your home’s wi-fi range), you may need a specialized frequency like Z-Wave, ZigBee or Bluetooth.5 If those sound like types of aliens, read up on what they are here. The short of it is, if you have other smart technology in your house, you’ll probably want to match the signal type.
- Do you plan to control your new device with your phone or tablet? Make sure it’s compatible with that phone or tablet.
- How does the device get power? Some outdoor gadgets are solar-powered; others may need batteries or a hard-wired connection.
Being water-wise has never been so sophisticated! Once you’ve figured out the features most important to you, the fun - and the conservation - begins. Making smart water decisions is an important part of having a green home and properly utilizing the resources available to us. We all can make improvements and make our homes a more environmentally friendly place and these smart upgrades are just a few simple ways to start.
If you’re interested in other home improvements to be more environmentally friendly, solar is an obvious choice and can help power many of the gadgets mentioned above. See the four different solar plans we have to offer.