Self-powered water and energy meter shortens showers by making you think of the Arctic

Amphiro smart water meter
© Amphiro

Conserving resources ought to be a no-brainer, at least to this crowd, but connecting our daily habits with their impact on our wallet might be more convincing that just trying to 'conserve water' or 'reduce our carbon footprint'.

One way to make that connection is through better data, in the form of smart meters for our water and energy consumption, showing us exactly how much water or energy is being used, and by what, at any given point in time.

A new type of smart water meter aims to make that more accessible, at least in terms of what comes out of the shower nozzle, and its design includes a self-powering feature, eliminating the need for battery changes or a power cord.

The Amphiro series of smart water meters for the shower has many beneficial features that could make it simple and easy to get accurate data on both water consumption and the associated energy use from heating that water. Unfortunately, it also has a few weaknesses that may keep it from being more widely adopted.

"The average household uses 2,000 kWh of energy every year only for water heating. This is more than what is used for lighting, cooking, electronic devices and the refrigerator together. Every morning, you can influence a large part of that energy usage – in the shower. Our product shows your hot water consumption in real time and helps you reduce your carbon footprint in an entertain­ing way. With amphiro a1, the typical household saves 440 kWh of energy as well as 8,500 liters (2,250 gallons) of drinking water and waste water - year by year." - Amphiro

Designed to be easily retrofitted in the shower, between the shower nozzle and the hose itself, the Amphiro meters display your current water consumption, the temperature of the water, and your energy consumption during the shower. Although installing the meter may be a simple process for certain shower setups, in many bathrooms it simply isn't feasible, as the shower supply lines tend to be behind the wall, so this device may not see wide adoption in areas where the standard plumbing practices make the pipes inaccessible.

To aid children in the house with visualizing this relationship, an animated polar bear is displayed on the A1 Arctic model, and the bear slowly loses its ice floes and is forced to swim for it after the shower has been running for a long time. For the more datacentric, the A1 Control offers a detailed display of the actual metrics for your showers, as well as the ability to compare them with the average consumption of your ten previous showers.

The Amphiro meters don't need a battery or an outlet, as an internal "micro-mechatronic" generator system allows the device to harvest its own energy from the flow of water through it, without a significant pressure drop. Taking the need to change or recharge a battery (or connect it with an outlet) out of the equation makes this device a bit more consumer-friendly, as our battery-centric lives can use all the relief they can get.

One big weakness for this smart water meter is the lack of connectibility, as there is no onboard WiFi or Bluetooth, so users must enter a code value from the meter into the Amphiro web portal in order to track monthly average consumption. The device does display the data onscreen after the shower, but unless the user is documenting it on their own, using one of these smart meters may not be as helpful as it might seem. There doesn't appear to be a way to capture and track the data on a lower level (daily use, or per-shower data) in order to get more precise with water consumption (and its related energy data) for analysis or goal tracking, which could be beneficial in reinforcing or changing water use habits.

The Amphiro smart water meters are currently being crowdfunded at Indiegogo, with backers at the $65 and up level receiving their own A1 models in April of 2014. For those who want their device in time for the holidays, ponying up $79 before December 14th will get it delivered before Christmas.

Tags: Energy | Technology | Water Conservation