In 2013, California households were using 174 gallons of water a day indoors, for things like washing dishes, brushing teeth, and flushing toilets. The state cut its overall water usage by 31 percent in July 2015 through a variety of tactics, including homeowners reducing consumption. Cities such as Long Beach also started installing smart water meters to catch water wasters and leaks.
Instead of punishing you, though, the makers of smart water meter Fluid want to empower you to recognize how much water you and your appliances are using and help you reduce those gallons. The plumber-free installation process (sorry, Mario) involves fitting the device around your main water pipe, plug it in, and connect to your Wi-Fi. Next, you go through an instruction process with the iPhone or Android app.
The Fluid is sophisticated enough to detect different “signatures” for the sink, dishwasher, and so on. You open the app, start up the washer, and it creates its profile based on its flow and duration. Two transducers in the Fluid send ultrasonic pulses back and forth to figure out how much water you’re using from the velocity and duration. Once your signatures are set up, the Fluid will start recognizing the differences between a toilet flush and a shower, so it can track the gallons going down the drain.
In the event of something unusual happening — a pipe bursting, a faucet leaking, the toilet running — you’ll get an alert. These water-wasters are how the Fluid pays for itself, according to its creators, even if you don’t start curbing your normal usage.
The Fluid is available on Kickstarter right now. It hasn’t yet met its $95,000 goal, but all its early-bird units are gone. You can still get a $90 discount by pledging $209. If everything works out for the Fluid, you should be able to start drought shaming your family members in May 2016.