Water technology may be an unfamiliar term, however, in the past few years, millions of dollars has been invested into developing technology that is focused on improving water usage, consumption and quality.
The advance of smart home technology is revolutionizing the way we live. We’re now able to see into our living rooms, unlock our doors, and now, control nearly every item remotely!
While the fun tech gadgets usually get all the attention when it comes to smart home technology, the market for products that help reduce energy, control various systems and generally improve our quality of life is exploding.
Whether it’s simple to more complex tasks, technology, coupled with the dominant force of the internet, has made such tasks a little more comfortable, and even fun to do. By 2019, a projected 38.2 million North American households are expected to have smart home systems.
From SmartThings (water leak sensor) to Rachio Sprinklers (saves you money on your water bill by optimizing your sprinkler system), home automation systems allow you to be water-smart by helping you make watering decisions based on your home and the planets ecological needs – it really is a great time to be alive.
What’s greater? Along with these transformative smart home systems, modern technology and the ‘internet of things’ is bringing more and more innovations to the surface in support of solving the problems residential homes all over the country are facing.
The Smart Home – Water Technology is Here!
Thanks to technology, our world has changed and keeps changing by the day. Technology has made it so that things that were once considered luxuries are now absolute necessities.
As consumers become increasingly tech-savvy and energy conscious, the future of the home is distinctly a connected and networked one. In 1995 roughly 10% of households had the internet. Today, our society depends on it for just about every function in our life.
Home automation technology allows us to control our entire home from one streamlined app. The functionality it provides makes it increasingly indispensable to running our household as well as ensuring that we are caring for the environment.
With that said, here are 6 popular home automation systems that are helping to fix our water woes:
1. Samsung’s SmartThings – Digital Monitoring for Analog Problems
Samsung’s SmartThings is a home automation and monitoring system that features five different smart sensors for home system monitoring, all linked together wirelessly via the Hub. This technology provides real time monitoring of home systems that traditionally, have not been monitored digitally.
Detect leaks instantly, monitor consumption, control functions, you name it! The benefits of this technology are absolutely astounding.
The great thing about SmartThings is that it gives you the option to easily connect to your Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, or one of the SmartThings apps to control your smart home.
You can configure these smart sensors however you like in your home, then get instant notifications if anything is out of the ordinary. You can also buy additional sensors, including a water detector and a water sensor. Next, we explore some of the specific monitoring devices that can be enabled with your Samsung SmartThings System.
Everspring Water Detector
Water leaks are harmful to your home and wasteful on the planet if they are left undetected. SmartThing’s water detector known as Everspring Water Detector monitors water leaks and flood and sends you alerts if your Everspring sensor detects water.
You can also automate connected devices with SmartThings and set them to turn on or turn off if your Everspring sensor detects water.
SmartThings Water Leak Sensor
Similar to the Everspring sensor, the SmartThings Water Leak Sensor monitors water leaks and floods. However, it also monitors temperature. This device can send you alerts from SmartThings if your water leak sensor detects water, or if the temperature changes.
You can also automate connected devices with SmartThings and set them to turn on or turn off if your water leak sensor detects water, or if the temperature changes.
Aeotec Water Sensor 6
The Aeotec Water Sensor 6 monitors when a pipe in your home has burst or is leaking, and not only that, but it can take protective measures to help limit the amount of damage caused.
This smart device will help you monitor and protect against leaks and floods in real-time. Leaks are not only costly, but they also increase pressure on water resources and raise the chances of pollutants infiltrating supplies. This device is super accurate and can detect as little as 0.03% of an inch of water, making it your first line of defence against damaged plumbing.
Ecolink Z-Wave Plus Flood & Freeze Sensor
There’s also the Ecolink Z-Wave Plus Flood & Freeze Sensor which also monitors water leaks, floods, and very low temperatures. Many of us are also taking advantage of new meat delivery services
Leak Intelligence Leak Gopher Water Shutoff Valve
This one is the Leak Intelligence Leak Gopher Water Shutoff Valve, and it controls your water supply with an automated valve. It prevents things like water damage, and you can automatically turn the water off when leaks are detected.
2. Rachio Sprinklers
Imagine being able to save money on water while spending less time fussing with your sprinkler?
Well, now you can with Smart Sprinklers! These devices can cost from $100 to $280 but are definitely worth the investment as they will greatly save you on money and water over time. From calculating how much water evaporates to monitoring when it’s going to rain, these smart sprinklers help keep your lawn healthy with less water wasted in the process.
Another great thing about smart sprinklers is that the EPA’s WaterSense program certifies most of them which means you’ll be able to get rebates on your utility bill for using a smart sprinkler.
If your home has an automated sprinkler system, Rachio helps save you money on your water bill by optimizing your sprinkler system only to turn on when it needs to.
Rachio works with both Amazon’s assistant Alexa and Google Assistant. With the Google Home integration, you will be able to control your sprinkler system using only your voice to turn the water on or off, and also update your schedule as needed.
This sprinkler system can also check the local forecast and will adjust schedules based on past, present, and future weather, and will also make intelligent seasonal adjustments as needed. Need huh!
3. Orbit b-hyve WIFI Sprinkler Timer
The Orbit b-hyve WIFI Sprinkler Timer detects when there is rain in the forecast and delays watering automatically. It gives you the capacity to control your watering from anywhere with your smartphone.
So whether you’re at work, at the mall, lounging in bed, or even halfway around the world, this system lets you monitor and control your sprinklers as if you were right next to the timer.
This particular smart sprinkler also works with both digital assistants Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant, so that you can start or stop your various settings with a voice command.
Check out this video of the system being installed to see the potential is has to offer for homeowners who take pride in their lawn and garden! Imagine being able to water your garden with your phone!
The potential here is very exciting for your lawn, but even more exciting and/or important for your garden. We know how difficult it can be to look after your garden, especially during the summer months when you may not be around each weekend!
Climate change is a real issue right now. Aquanta Inc. develops innovative products and technologies that address these issues, with a specific focus on energy usage, inefficiencies and grid integration opportunities inherent in our water heating and plumbing systems.
Aquanta is designed for tank storage-style water heaters. Your water heater and heating/air conditioning system make up 65% of your home’s energy usage, so they should work together for you. Aquanta lets you heat water when you need it and save money when you don’t. They “Let you turn your dumb hot water tank into a smart appliance!”
Their retrofittable water heater controller brings your electric or gas water heater out of the basement and literally into the palm of your hand to heat water only when you need it. This device can control electric water heaters as well as those gas water heaters with an electronic gas control valve.
Aquanta is controlled via Wi-Fi and integrates into most of the major platforms. If you have a Google NEST, you can go to your Aquanta user dashboard and add your Nest Thermostat.
Nest-Away also lets Aquanta know when you are gone to reduce water heating energy usage.
Watch the video below for a quick demonstration!
5. Google Nest
The Nest is a programmable thermostat that learns what temperatures you like. Most homes aren’t the same temperature throughout. Perhaps the master bedroom gets too warm, or the baby’s room is too cold. With the Nest Temperature Sensor, you can let your Nest thermostat know which room should be the most comfortable room in the house.
This fantastic device can turn itself down when you’re away and can be controlled from anywhere over Wi-Fi. Just simply log onto your Nest account to change the temperature, view and adjust your schedule or settings, and best of all, see exactly how much energy you are using!
The Nest can control water heating, temperature, energy usage, tracks energy history, controls hot water tank schedule, all while sending you alerts via the Nest app on a smartphone. Its OpenTherm technology modulates a high-efficiency condensing boiler, enabling energy saving.
This device’s capabilities is impressive considering that just a couple of years ago most people barely even thought about their air conditioning until it didn’t work. Its safe to say that this smart thermostat has opened up a whole new world of home control, and most importantly, money and energy savings.
Rheem, the leading manufacturer of water heaters in the U.S., has a Wi-Fi module for electric/gas water heaters that lets you monitor control its energy usage and be alerted about leaks or other potentially costly problems.
A water heater, which is responsible for up to 18% of a home’s energy use, just sits there 24/7 heating/reheating water. With the Wi-Fi water module, it can now be programmed from your smartphone. You can use this app to set schedules based on your personal lifestyle and usage needs.
The device can also save you from potential disasters with features like leak detection, service diagnostics, and system status that will alert you of any problems. Additionally, it will provide you with an error code you can provide technicians before they arrive.
Another great example of the combination of green technology and home automation industries.
Water Smart Technology: Solution For Global Water Crisis
Access to safe water and sanitation can immediately turn problems into potential. Together with these transformative smart home systems, modern technology is bringing more and more innovations to the surface in support of solving our global water crisis.
1 in 10 people today lack regular access to safe drinking water. According to the UN, by the year 2025, 1.8 billion people will be living in water scarcity. These figures put intense pressure on the planet’s limited water supplies.
Businesses are now turning to technological innovation to tackle this most basic humanitarian problem. These miraculous innovations aim to make a real impact for some of the 663 million people who suffer from water shortages.
Examples of These Solutions Range From:
Condensation processes to pull water from thin air
Turning salty seawater into fresh water
Ensuring UV light purification chips affordable enough for people to use at home
Electronic instruments like pressure sensors, connected wirelessly in real time to a centralized and cloud-based monitoring system will allow companies to detect and pinpoint leaks much quicker.
As we mentioned earlier in this article, leaks are not only costly, but they increase pressure on water resources and raise the chances of pollutants infiltrating supplies. In the United States, 6 billion gallons of treated water are lost per day from leaky pipes alone.
However, having enough water to go around is only the beginning. That water also needs to be transported, treated and discharged. Slowly but surely, modern technology is promising to transform wastewater into a resource for energy generation and a source of drinking water.
Read on to discover how!
1. “Reinvent The Toilet”
In 2012, The Gates Foundation held a Reinvent the Toilet Challenge due to the 2.5 billion people in the world who did not have access to safe, sanitary toilets.
California Institute of Technology won the $100,000 first prize for designing a solar-powered toilet that generates hydrogen and electricity.
United Kingdom’s Loughborough University won $60,000 in the second position for a toilet that produced biological charcoal, minerals, and clean water.
Canada’s University of Toronto won the third place prize of $40,000 for a toilet that can sanitize wastes and urine as well as recover resources and clean water.
2. Cow Manure Into Filtered Drinking Water
The McLanahan Nutrient Separation System takes waste and makes energy coupled with ultrafiltration, air-stripping, reverse osmosis system. What goes in manure, comes out water clean enough for livestock to drink, or, at the very least, dispose of in an environmentally friendly way.
“If you have 1,000 cows on your operation, they produce about 10 million gallons of manure a year” – Steve Safferman, Associate Professor of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering at Michigan State University
3. Tiny UV Water Purifiers
Many regions in the world are poised for a water crisis when water reserves will eventually run dry. Cape Town, South Africa has been one of the few who has been able to delay this crisis due to extreme conservation efforts.
However, other areas are quickly running out of the water including Iraq, India, Morocco, and Spain. The US is no exception. According to the US Drought Monitor, as of the year 2018, more than 45% of the US encountered abnormally dry, or drought conditions and 28% suffered moderate to severe drought conditions.
Researchers from Stanford University and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory recently developed a tiny UV water purifier that cuts the lengthy process from 48 hours to roughly 20 minutes.
4. The Pipe
A desalination project in California called The Pipe (check out the stunning image above), is designed to provide 1.5 billion gallons (or 4.5 billion litres) of clean drinking water for the drought-affected state.
The Pipe relies on electromagnetic desalination methods to turn seawater into clean water, it then filters the salty by-product through thermal baths, and then finally flushes it back into the Pacific Ocean.
Given the current drought throughout California, and the dearth of water in general, a variety of urban micro generators such as this can complement utility-scale energy generation.
5. Desalination Technology
As we see from The Pipe example above, desalination technology is becoming more effective and more important because of growing water security issues. Many dry places in the world, have turned to ocean water desalination for a water source. A plant (name unknown) in Beijing, China, which should be completed in 2019, will provide a third of the city’s water.
6. Large Fog Harvester
This extremely large fog harvester (reportedly it’s the largest) uses large mesh fences to trap dense fog in the Moroccan desert and turn it into clean, fresh water!
The fog harvester reportedly produces as much as 17 gallons of clean, safe drinking water per square yard of the net.
7. The Warka Water Tower
The award-winning design of the Warka Water Tower is premised on fog harvesting concepts. It takes the form of a huge cylinder constructed from bamboo and wrapped in recycled mesh. The tower is surrounded by a canopy that provides shade for residents to rest under while they funnel off condensed water from the tower’s base.
See the video below for more info on the Warka Water Tower!
8. Carnegie Perth Wave Energy Project
The Carnegie Perth Wave Energy Project generates renewable energy from the movement of the ocean while simultaneously desalinating seawater.
The floating device operates off the coast of Perth in Western Australia, where environmentally friendly electricity production methods are a priority. Its built-in desalination system uses some of the electricity generated to produce clean drinking water, and the rest of the electricity is supplied back to shore and added to the grid.
The project is part of Perth’s larger plan to make desalination a long-term source of clean drinking water for the local community.
According to The WaterSeer publication page, this generator uses the enclosing environment to extract water from the air. It is planted six feet beneath the surface, where its lower chamber is enclosed by cool ground.
Above the ground, winds spin a turbine which then spin fan blades inside the device. Afterwards, the blades send the air into an inner condensation chamber where (as the warm air cools) the vapour condenses on the sides.
Finally, the water flows down to the lower chamber and can be extricated with a simple pump and hose. This device can collect 37 litres of water a day.
10. Graphene filters
Historically, desalination has been said to be too costly and energy-intensive to function as a widespread solution. However, Lockheed Martin, an American global aerospace, defence, security and advanced technologies company, has developed and patented a Perforene Graphene filter which it claims will reduce the energy cost of conventional reverse osmosis desalination by 20%, all while withstanding higher pressure and temperatures.
The technology would be hugely beneficial to the oil and gas sector, which reportedly produces 18 billion gallons of wastewater each year.
11. Khobar Water Tower
Saudi Arabia is said to the largest producer of desalinated water in the world. Most recently, it’s taken desalination technology to the next level by introducing desalination powered by renewable, solar energy – a resource that’s plentiful in this desert nation.
It’s home to the world’s largest solar photovoltaic (PV) desalination plant in the city of Al Khafji. By 2019, Saudi Arabia wants all desalination plants to be powered by solar technology.
12. Sorek Desalination Plant
Israel, another strong leader in water conservation technology due to its desert location, recycles 85 percent of wastewater. The Sorek desalination located in Israel became operational in October 2013 with a seawater treatment capacity of 624,000m³/day.
By 2020, it estimates that 50 % of its agricultural needs will be met with recycled water and with more than 300 water technology companies specializing in desalination, Israel earns $2 billion annually by exporting its water to other countries.
13. Nano Water Chip
The cost of clean water is a significant obstacle, so researchers keep looking for affordable solutions for small scale, personal water purification.
In 2014, a joint research team from the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Marburg in Germany developed a low-drain water chip which generates a small electrical field to desalinate seawater. The water chip promises to offer a portable clean water solution capable of running on a regular battery.
More Startups Tackling Water Problems
The interest in water technology is growing steadily among business startups, as well as hardware startups that create affordable, efficient water filters and purifiers.
Imagine H2O, A San Francisco startup and accelerator organizers and encourages innovations in the water industry to use technology to raise awareness about big water problems. Foundations and large corporations fund the projects by the non-profit.
The startup Okeanos Technologies was founded to eradicate the lack of available water sources in many places in and out of the United States. Founded in 2001 this company continues to fight against unsafe water sources. Okeanos Technology is also responsible for Nano Water Chip’s research and development.
A big sign that digital water technology is gaining traction is by the merger and acquisition activity involving water technology startups! Some examples include:
Suez, which is a French-based utility company which operates mainly in the water treatment and waste management sectors, invested in Optimatics, a world-leading provider of infrastructure planning software that enables water and wastewater utilities around the globe.
Kurita, a Japanese manufacturer, providing water treatment chemicals and facilities as well as process treatment chemicals, has funded multiple companies focused on digital solutions including water analytics company Apana and Fracta, an AI-focused water startup.
Xylem, a large American water technology provider, that lets their customers treat, test and efficiently use water in public utility, residential, commercial, agricultural and industrial settings, acquired monitoring software company Valor Water Analytics.
Other Corporations Tackling Water Problems
Thankfully, prominent corporations like Coca Cola are also taking an interest in conserving and recycling water.
Coke and WWF launched a transformational partnership in 2007 to help conserve the world’s freshwater resources. Increasing this focus, they are renewing their collaboration through 2020 to build on their development and achieve even more significant impact by helping address the natural resource challenges that impact freshwater while protecting natural resources.
Check out the inspiring video below!
The EPA has created WaterSense irrigation controllers which could save the average home 8,800 gallons of water annually.
Instead of using standard clock timers, WaterSense controllers allow watering schedules to better match plants’ water needs by using local weather and landscaping conditions to figure out how much water is necessary.
This program works to promote water-saving technology and inform society of the significance of this environmental concern. As of today, the WaterSense program has saved consumers over $46 billion on their water and energy bills. It was also reported in September 2018 that it’s about to become part of federal law!
According to the Alliance for Water Efficiency, the program will be part of America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018. So If you happen to see a product or system with WaterSense label, you can be confident that it uses at least 20% less water than the traditional model in addition to being more energy efficient.
WatrHub provides up-to-date information about water and wastewater treatment. The data and analytics company said that its goal is to take the fragmented data that is out there about water, analyze it, and make it accessible to anyone who wants to use the service with actionable reports and market intelligence available to companies who wish to use the data.
Companies such as dropcountr provide utilities and customers with water use data. With the dropcountr app you can connect to their unique water portal to view usage, comparisons, rebates and more.
Traditional water meters have been known to be inaccurate in reporting water consumption. Often times, consumers end up paying for water that has not been used or find themselves unable to pay the accumulated cost of running water at home.
dropcountr partners with water utilities and basically signs a contract to access their meter data. Essentially they are taking water usage data at the individual account level for all the accounts in a utility service area. They then look at that information, analyze it and present it back through their platform.
WaterSmart is another provider of water use data. Their cloud-based solutions provide great financial returns in the short run and long-term.
Businesses will be able to serve customers through an engaging digital self-service technology in the aims to avoid costs for water purchases, pumping energy, and treatment chemicals with one, easy-to-use platform.
The world pollutes water at an dangerous rate and fails to treat it. About 80 percent of the world’s wastewater is released back into nature without further treatment or reuse. In many countries, it’s cheaper to receive clean drinking water than to treat and dispose of wastewater, which encourages water waste.
Spout tests for lead in your water at three critical areas in and around your home. How it works is, you add a drop of water to the disposable cartridge and insert it into the spout reader. Then simply sit back and watch as spout analyzes, detects and displays real-time results on your smartphone.
With Spout, you’ll be able to share data with your local water company and help map water quality across your city.
HydroPoint demonstrates how much money is disappearing across a property’s outdoor water use, showing a typical payback in 24-36 months just by lowering irrigation water bills.
Additional savings come in eliminating overwatering with the accompanying danger of structural and plant damage. In 2015 alone, visibility and control of water usage saved thousands of HydroPoint customers:
16 billion gallons of water
62 million kilowatt hours of energy
Making Water-Saving Technology The Norm Starts In The Home
In the U.S, around 4.8 billion gallons of water is literally flushed down the toilet each day. A water saving toilet like Toto uses a high-efficiency double cyclone flush system that only requires 1.28 gallons of water – per flush, while traditional toilets use about 3 to 7 gallons of water per flush.
There is also dual-flush toilets which offer two different water levels:
1. less for liquid waste
2. more for solid waste
This way you will be avoiding unnecessary flushing (five gallons of water) every single time you go to the bathroom.
Replacing an old faucet with a WaterSense labeled model could save 700 gallons of water per year! This equals to the amount of 40 showers. If this is not an option for you, you can try to retrofit existing faucets with a WaterSense aerator which will slow the flow and help you conserve more water.
According to WaterSense standards, an efficient showerhead would only use 2 gallons of water per minute. As a result,more companies are pursuing a showerhead model that doesn’t compromise quality for flow.
According to the EPA, “Replacing shower heads with WaterSense labeled models can reduce the average family’s water and electricity costs by $70 and can save the average family more than 2,700 gallons of water per year, which equals to 88 loads of laundry.
If you have a sprinkler system, you should try taking a look at the sprinkler body. This is part of your sprinkler system that houses the spray nozzle and connects to your irrigation system.
Landscape irrigation sprinklers are often installed where the system pressure is higher than what is recommended for the sprinkler nozzle. This can lead to excessive flow rates and uneven coverage.
WaterSense labelled sprinkler bodies will help generate the right amount of water being sprayed with more uniform coverage.
Water & Moisture Sensors
Leaks are a major offender of water waste. More than a trillion gallons of water is lost to leaks each year in the U.S.
Smart home and building systems include water and moisture sensors that notify you when they detect something out of the ordinary. As we’ve demonstrated at the beginning of this article, these sensors can instantly shut off your water system to stop further damage and waste.
Other appliances are hooked up to your main water supply line and continuously track the water flow to prevent the smallest of leaks before they become a problem.
Leaks might seem like they’re out of your control because they’re less noticeable than a toilet flushing or a running shower, but there are affordable ways to prevent, track, and reduce leakage. Avoiding water damage is just a bonus.
Consumers are becoming increasingly tech-savvy and energy conscious
In 1995 roughly 10% of households had the internet. Today, our society depends on it for just about every function in our life.
70% of the Earth’s surface is covered with water, but only 1% of that is available for humans to use due to contamination from pollution or other environmental issues.
Although it’s true that water is a renewable resource, it’s often wasted. Inefficient practices like flood irrigation and water-intensive wet cooling at thermal power plants use more water than necessary.
The world’s population, now at 7.5 billion, is projected to add 2.3 billion more people by 2050.
Growing incomes also exacerbate the water problem, because of the water-intensive products—like meat and energy from fossil fuels—that wealthier populations demand.
According to the UN, by the year 2025, 1.8 billion people will be living in water scarcity. These figures put intense pressure on the planet’s limited water supplies.
In the United States, 6 billion gallons of treated water are lost per day from leaky pipes alone.
Leaks are not only costly, but they increase pressure on water resources and raise the chances of pollutants infiltrating supplies.
By 2019, a projected 38.2 million North American households are expected to have smart home systems.
Access to safe water and sanitation can immediately turn problems into solutions.
Home automation systems allows us to be water-smart by helping us make watering decisions based on our home and the planets ecological needs
The Nest can control water heating, temperature, energy usage, tracks energy history, controls hot water tank schedule, all while sending you alerts via the Nest app on a smartphone.
Many dry places in the world, have turned to ocean water desalination for a water source.
By 2019, Saudi Arabia wants all desalination plants to be powered by solar technology.
Israel recycles 85 percent of wastewater.
The interest in water technology is growing steadily among business startups, specifically hardware startups that create affordable, efficient water filters and purifiers.
A big indication that digital water technology is gaining traction is by the merger and acquisition activity involving water technology startups.
A product or system with WaterSense label uses at least 20% less water than the traditional model in addition to being more energy efficient.
The WaterSense program has saved consumers over $46 billion on their water and energy bills. It was also reported in September 2018 that it’s about to become part of federal law.
Smart sprinklers help keep your lawn healthy with less water wasted in the process.
Replacing shower heads with WaterSense labeled models can reduce the average family’s water and electricity costs by $70 and can save the average family more than 2,700 gallons of water per year, which equals to 88 loads of laundry.
Some people may dismiss the idea that the world has a severe problem with water. However, for the past several decades, water has consistently been named as a leading risk in the World Economic Forum’s annual survey.
Our world currently faces three water-related challenges. First, the world’s fresh water unevenly distributed, second, the hydrological cycle is flighty and either delivers too much water, which causes flooding, or too little water, resulting in drought. Third, the water that is available isn’t pure enough for human consumption.
There is also the issue of pollution from industrialized societies, which produce large quantities of pesticides, fertilizers, and heavy metals, making our water problem much worse.
However, as we have learned today, technological solutions exist to help solve these issues. Governments, businesses, universities and people around the world are waking up to water challenges and starting to take extreme action.
An increased focus on personal responsibility as well with each new technological innovation brings more solutions. With the rise of public water-saving initiatives, and with the progression of advanced technology, we are more equipped than ever to fix our global water crisis.