Californians can poke their water utility for instant access to daily water usage : TreeHugger

Would knowing how much water you used each day, as opposed to only knowing your total for each month, as shown on your water bill (a month later), help you to conserve water? One company thinks so, and their app aims to give consumers access to their own data in order to spur water conservation at the household level.

Considering the extreme drought conditions that have affected California for three years running now, water conservation ought to be a high priority for people living and working there. In some instances, innovative solutions are in place at the water source, or where high water usage is obvious or necessary, but on the smaller scale, in homes and yards, much more can be done to continue to reduce water waste and consumption.

But water bills are kind of funny, at least if you just get a basic monthly bill from your utility, because it’s simply a bulk number of how many thousands of gallons of water used overall, and then perhaps broken out for pricing if you’re in a tiered water cost system. By the time you get the water bill, any actions you could have taken to reduce your usage, and hence your bill, are going to be almost a month behind. If you have a leaky pipe somewhere not very obvious, or a hose or sprinkler system is left on overnight, you may not know about it before a huge amount of water has been wasted.

One solution is to go read your meter at the same time everyday, and manually track it, to get an idea of how much water you’ve used each day.

But there’s a better option, at least if you live in California, with the Dropcountr app.

© Dropcountr
Apart from installing a smart water sensor in your home, the Dropcountr app could be the next best (and easiest) solution for almost real-time access to water usage data, allowing consumers to make better decisions about their daily water use. When people estimate about their own water use, they often pick a figure that’s only half of what their actual usage is, so knowing how much water was actually used, and when, could be a huge help in understanding home water consumption and conservation.

When signing up, users are asked to connect the app to their water utility (so if you don’t live in California, it won’t work for you), which can then be “poked” by the app to retrieve the customer’s daily water data. The basic idea is that if we can see a direct correlation between our daily activities and our daily water usage, then we can make better decisions when it comes to water conservation. The company’s behavioral-based water conservation angle is right in line with the trend of easier access to data (at least our own data), which is helping us to measure more aspects of our lives, in order to meet our goals.

“We’ve seen clear and positive results of what happens when you provide energy customers the digital tools and access they need to monitor and control their energy consumption. What we’re doing at Dropcountr is providing that same level of access for water.” – Robb Barnitt, CEO of Dropcountr

Dropcountr, in addition to displaying daily water usage, also features tips for conserving water, access to rebates, water conservation goal setting and tracking, and the ability to directly message their water utility. Users can compare their own water budget and actual water usage with that of others, and see trends and spikes over time, allowing them to better understand their own water footprint and take action to reduce it.

The app is free, and only currently for iOS, with the Android version coming next month. Water utilities that may be interested in partnering with Dropcountr in their area can request a demo via the website.

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5 August 2014 | 6:26 pm – Source:

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