Persistent droughts in the Western United States are cutting into water supplies and driving up bills, making water conservation more important than ever. Of course, in order to reduce your consumption and minimize your plumbing costs, you need to know when and how you’re using the most water. After all, knowledge is power. One tool that could help you save is the smart meter.
Smart Technology in Your Plumbing
Your standard, garden-variety water meters simply tick away with each unit of water that runs into your home, with no way to record whether more water is used during certain times or days. Instead, the meter reader comes once a month and records the total amount used. That can help give you a heads up when your consumption increases on a month-to-month basis, but it doesn't give you much to go on for understanding why or how.
Smart meters, on the other hand, track your water usage every few minutes and record the data automatically. There are two primary benefits to these meters – utilities can monitor resident consumption remotely and quickly provide a warning when patterns change, which could indicate a leak or other problem in the plumbing. Cost savings can be discovered by the consumer, as well, since they have access to exactly how much water they are using and when, making it easier to determine that their morning showers are taking too long or that filling the pool came at a hefty price.
Accuracy and Flexibility
Smart water meters are also more accurate than traditional water meters, according to Forbes. What's more, a changeover to smart water meters would allow utilities to implement variable pricing to respond better to drought conditions and give homeowners further incentive to cut back in the event of a shortage.
Smart water meters aren't yet as popular as their cousins, smart electric meters, which have enjoyed widespread adoption around the country in recent years. However, several cities in California have started installing smart water meters in response to the state's water crisis – Long Beach, for example, recently launched a pilot program to test 200 of them, and San Francisco has already switched 96 percent of its water meters over to smart technology. In total, utility companies could spend up to $2 billion installing smart water meters between now and 2020, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
Widespread Adoption on the Way
Installation cost is a big obstacle to large-scale adoption, but if water supplies remain unstable and prices continue to rise, more utility companies are sure to install smart meters when their network of traditional meters, which typically have a lifespan of 15-20 years, begins to age out.
If you want to know if smart water meters are on their way to your city, or need other tips on reducing your plumbing costs, call an expert plumber today.