Tech Tips for Surviving the Drought

Smart home technology and mobile apps help monitor and reduce water usage

By on July 27, 2015

For those of us in the western United States, conserving water is a daily topic of conversation and concern. The spotlight is on California residents in particular, who were asked earlier this year by Governor Jerry Brown to reduce water consumption by 20 percent after he declared a state of emergency.

According to the EPA, the average American household uses 320 gallons of water per day, about 30 percent of that for outdoor uses. Some experts estimate that as much as half of all water used for irrigation is wasted through evaporation, wind or runoff caused by inefficient irrigation methods and systems.

We can each do the obvious things: take shorter showers, do fewer loads of laundry and water lawns less often. Many don’t realize, however, that mobile devices, apps and technology can also help us cope with the drought.

We asked Timothy Dahl, smart home strategist, DIY enthusiast and founder of home improvement site Charles & Hudson, which mobile apps he recommends to help reduce water wastage in and around the home, and he recommended the following:

  • Have a swimming pool? iAquaLink allows you to manage every aspect of your pool from your smartphone or web browser. The app lets you control temperatures, pumps, filters and other pool-related features. Running a more efficient pool saves energy and provides precision water usage management.

  • Lowe's home improvement company’s DIY smart home solution, Iris, offers several water-saving products that connect to a central smart hub in the home and can be controlled through the Iris mobile app. The Orbit Hose Faucet Water Timer and Orbit Irrigation Timer allow you to control your watering schedule from your smartphone or tablet, and the Utilitech Water Leak Detector will send alerts through the app if, for example, a pipe bursts or a flood occurs in the home.

  • Dropcountr connects people and their utilities on the mobile devices they use every day. The app tracks water usage in the home, and can send daily trend reports so users can see how much water they’re using compared to others with similar-sized homes. If Dropcountr notices unusually high numbers, it alerts the user that they might have a leak.

  • GreenIQ is a smart garden system and app that monitors lawn sprinklers. The smart garden hub communicates with local weather stations to calculate an optimal watering schedule based on current weather conditions and weather forecasts.

  • H2O Tracker is a water conservation game that helps estimate water usage in and around your house so you can conserve, save money and even earn points toward prizes. As fun as it is beneficial, the app is an excellent way to inspire kids to conserve water. 

NASA recently reported that at least 11 trillion gallons of water would be needed to end California’s historic drought. Whether you’re taking advantage of the latest smart home technology or simply downloading a water-saving app, make sure to do your part, because every drop counts.

Know of any other apps that might help conserve water? Tweet me at @heidiflato.

Tags: tips, mobile apps, DIY, emergency preparedness, Emergency