Monitoring Water Usage through Home Automation

By Dwight Spivey

Few things are as important to people on a daily basis as water, and that is no stretch of the truth. Water is so much a part of daily life that humans simply don’t think about it much until it’s time to pay for it or they are without it.

The why’s of monitoring water

Take a moment to think seriously about the role that water plays in your life and how much you actually use it. Some of your most basic daily activities involve water:

  • You drink water every day, in some form or another. Even if you don’t pour yourself a glass of cold water, it’s near a guarantee that if you drink a liquid it will include some level of water. Iced tea, coffee, soft drinks, and even adult beverages all contain some measure of water in them.

  • You wash your dishes, clothes, cars, and your body with water.

  • Water keeps crops from drying up, thereby keeping you not only hydrated, but also fed.

  • You use water when you go to the restroom, both in the toilet and when you (hopefully) wash your hands.

  • You brush your teeth and rinse with water.

  • You incorporate water into your leisure activities, whether at the beach or simply in the backyard with a water hose.

Water enriches people’s lives in countless other ways every day. Suffice to say, it’s probably a good idea to keep an eye on how much of this incredible resource you use. Not only do you want to maintain this resource, but you also want to maintain your monthly budgets (water’s not expensive, but it isn’t free either).

Coming at this from another viewpoint, for as much as people benefit from water, it can also be very damaging if not kept in check. Water damage in a home can be catastrophic, leading to expensive fixes, the loss of a home, or even personal injury. Finding a water leak too late can be devastating to a homeowner’s pocketbook and even lead to health issues caused by mold and mildew. Knowing when a leak first occurs can prevent a world of problems.

So, water should be monitored for two main reasons:

  • Discover inordinate amounts of water usage to prevent waste and unexpectedly high monthly bills.

  • Make yourself aware of leaks before serious damage can be inflicted on your property.

The how’s of monitoring water

The best way for you to monitor water usage (call it Plan A) is to station one member of your household, armed with a walkie-talkie, at every major water outlet. Place your spouse in the master bath, your oldest daughter at the spigot in the backyard, your son next to the kitchen sink, your youngest daughter should spy the washing machine hoses, and grandma can man the bathroom in the front of the house.

Okay, some of you might be objecting to that plan for one reason or another, so move on to Plans B and C.

Plan B consists of detection devices that discover leaks and report them to you instantly via text, email, or some other notification on your smartphone, tablet, or computer. These devices are simple sensors that detect the presence of water where it shouldn’t be, and they report the moisture to a smart hub or similar device, which then relays the problem to you.

Plan C employs the help of a “smart” water meter that tracks real-time water usage and reports it to your smartphone, tablet, or computer. Through the use of an app, you can see the amount of water that you’re using on a daily basis, and review various statistics, such as an estimate of your monthly bill or comparisons of monthly water usage.