New Technology Could Save Billions of Gallons of Water Each Day
Use of Product Reduces Water Consumption by up to 39 Percent
Water conservation, once considered an inconsequential practice by the business community, is increasingly demanding attention as companies try to save costs in a stumbling economy, as well as become more environmentally conscious.
One group determined to limit the costs associated with water consumption is the apartment industry. Like many business owners, property managers have been affected by the higher price of water, which is partly due to the Clean Water and Safe Drinking Water Acts. Historically, property managers have absorbed the cost of water because of inefficient and nonexistent methods of charging residents for their water use. Until recently, most property owners included the price of water within a resident's monthly rent. This practice, however, discourages residents from saving water, costing owners money and wasting a precious natural resource.
Wellspring Wireless Utility Services, a provider of wireless, point-of-use water meters, is giving property owners a means to substantially decrease water consumption and accurately measure water expenses. Wellspring's innovative new product, Aqura, utilizes advanced wireless technology to track each resident's intake of cold and hot water.
The product--resembling a small hand-held radio--is placed on each water entry point within an apartment, whether behind a showerhead, toilet bowl or under a kitchen sink. A flow sensor continuously collects flow and temperature data before transmitting it every eight hours to a base station.
"With this new technology, apartment owners are able to record exactly how much water and hot water energy each resident is using, and bill residents accordingly," says Brian Brittsan, president of Wellspring International, the parent company of Wellspring Wireless Utility Services. "Previously, owners were only able to submeter buildings that had single supply lines into each unit. These buildings represent less than 40 percent of the total market; the other 60 percent have not been able to be submetered until now. Aqura is the only metering solution for majority of the apartments in the U.S."
According to the National Apartment Association and the National Multi Housing Council, residents who have to pay for their own water consume 18 to 39 percent less water than those whose water costs are included in their rent. It's estimated that if all of America's 25 million apartment units utilized submetering, approximately 2.5 billion gallons of water could be saved each day, saving owners and residents about $4.6 billion annually.
Scot Sellers, chairman and CEO of Archstone Communities, is pleased to have Wellspring's product in many of his company's units. "This system allows Archstone to effectively re-claim water and utility expenses, and to do so in a way that is fair and equitable to our residents," he says.
Indeed, shifting utility expense through submetering provides owners with a greater revenue boost and a higher property valuation increase than any other residential ancillary service available today. And residents who view their utility bills as fair are more inclined to pay them.
Brittsan is betting that in addition to the cost savings associated with his company's new product, the environmental implications of submetering will help fuel broad demand. "This technology not only helps to conserve water and water heating energy, it also reduces sewage and the amount of stress on infrastructure," he says. "In drought-plagued states, the implementation of submetering will add supply to water reserves."