Smart technology is everywhere. Why not in plumbing? Well, smart plumbing is real and in demand, now and in the future.
According to Safe Plumbing, the United States uses 3.9 trillion gallons of water every month with agriculture using 70% of water worldwide. Smart technology in plumbing can help limit and control water usage to prevent excess water waste.
Tankless/Smart Water Heaters
A tankless water heater provides the convenience of never running out of hot water. Additionally, tankless water heaters can be significantly more efficient than standard hot water tanks. A smart water heater, though not necessarily tankless, contains a thermostat that allows you to precisely set the temperature. It also includes energy smart modes which responds to user patterns in order to save hot water. Any problems that arise with smart water heaters appear on diagnostic screens. Tankless water heaters may not be smart water heaters and smart water heaters may not be tankless. However, as more smart homes are being built, the use of smart and tankless water heaters will increase.
Hot Water Recirculation
Like tankless water heaters, hot water recirculation keeps hot water constantly circulating through the pipes. This means users do not have to wait for the shower or sink to heat up. Without a hot water circulation system in place, water that was previously hot cools in the pipes, which means more water is pumped through them to get hot water. With new hot water circulation systems, a significant amount of water is saved.
Smart irrigation started as a result of droughts, providing consumers with an easier and quicker way to control how much water is used in their irrigation system. Smart irrigation technology allows consumers to turn sprinklers on and off, set timers, and allow the system to adjust automatically based on weather forecasts, all from their mobile phone. This saves money and preserves water in the event of a drought or leak.
According to Benjamin Franklin Plumbing, the average household water leak wastes 1 trillion gallons of water every year in the United States alone. Leak detectors are exactly what they sound like: detectors that alert you when there is a water leak. They are manually placed where a leak is likely to occur and will alert you in the event of a leak. These can prevent some damage from flooding, as you are able to react quicker. Additionally, leak detectors can catch leaky pipes in order to avoid the cost of a constantly running leaky pipe. Some leak detectors include an app that can be downloaded to your phone and will send alerts in the event of a leak.
Touchless faucets in both bathrooms and kitchens provide the protection of not spreading germs. Without having to touch it to turn it on, sensors detect when a hand is placed under the faucet. These faucets sometimes have a sensitive sensor; however, they can be easier to use than a standard faucet. Touchless faucets prevent the spread of germs and bacteria by limiting the amount of high contact touch points. Additionally, touchless faucets are timed, therefore saving water compared to a manual handle that can be accidentally left on.
Greywater systems are a relatively new concept with consumers generally not knowing what the system includes or even knowing about it at all. However, greywater systems provide a different irrigation and recycling system that uses water that has been gently used. This means that the water has not come into contact with fecal matter or anything that could otherwise contaminate it. An example of greywater would be water that has been used to wash dishes can be used a second time for irrigation.
There are many features of a smart toilet that are not standard on toilets. These can be automatic flushing, air dryer, heated seating, foot warmer, overflow protecting, bidet washes, self-cleaning features, self-deodorizer, nightlight, and a slow closing lid. Each smart toilet has its own features. Touchless toilets may not have the variety of features that a smart toilet provides but it would automatically flush, so consumers do not have to use their hands.
Smart Shower/Bluetooth Shower Head
Smart showers contain features that are not offered by standard showers. These features can include temperature control via digital panel or app, voice control to turn the shower on and off, touch-adjust water spray, and a Bluetooth enabled speaker. Smart showers are not a common item yet and are considered a luxury. Bluetooth shower heads are also available without other features.
Why is smart plumbing important? There has been a 200% increase in U.S. water usage between 1950 and 2000. This number is continuing to rise; the average family of four in the United States uses at least 400 gallons of water a day, double the average in Europe. Smart plumbing can reduce water waste and allow consumers to have more control over water usage.