We’re often told that showers are more water efficient than taking a bath, and that you save energy. But how much? And how much more could you save if you had a decent way of monitoring those drips and spurts?
The European designed Amphiro A1 Self Monitoring Water & Energy Smart Meter Review is the result of another Kickstarter campaign, helping get smart tech into homes by crowdfunding just over $40,000, showing you don’t need millions to create a great product.
Now generally available from the likes of Amazon, it offers a screw-in smart meter that helps measure the water used from most showers.
This can help promote the family or heavy shower users to save even more water and energy. It also provides a new data point in what is generally a pretty information-free bathroom.
While the Amphiro A1 might discourage some from those lazy, comforting, power showers, you can be pretty sure that sooner or later, environmental legislation will be coming to limit our fun, so you might as well get ahead of
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The Amphiro A1 costs $99.99 (check this listing for the latest live prices) and comes in a fetching pastel aqua blue or white color. The unit comes with a short hose and connects between the original hose and the shower head. It doesn’t require batteries, and turns on and off when the shower is running.
The LCD shows the water temperature in Fahrenheit, a very useful feature, the volume of water being used and how energy efficient the shower is. The makers claim that it can help people save up to 440 kWh, of power, 2,245 gallons of water and around $150 per year.
As it is, reducing your hot water consumption will help saver power and go with all the other energy efficient devices we’re adding to our homes.
Pros of the Amphiro A1
Unlike many smart home devices, this is a pleasure to install, just unscrew the showerhead from the hose, attach the Amphiro A1 and reconnect the head. Okay, that won’t work on fixed shower heads and some other systems, but in the majority of cases it shouldn’t cause a problem.
In use, the device is brilliant in its simplicity. Turn the shower on, and it starts measuring, although the data capture system is a bit of a kludge (see Cons).
Once you get used to noting the code and entering it in the app, you get a neat display of water usage, typical temperature and power savings, helping to encourage you to improve your usage.
Unfortunately there’s no way of breaking this down by user, to track down who’s having all those secret showers, but it helps paint an overall picture of
Watching the polar bear lose his or her ice as more water is used is a great way to encourage children to conserve this resource, and the display can also help nudge adults out from under the pleasant jet of water.
Cons of the Amphiro A1
The genius of a power-free solution in the Amphiro A1, able to run its electronics, measurements and display without the need for batteries does throw a minor spanner in the works.
If you want to monitor the data that it produces then you need to enter a code into the smartphone app, since it doesn’t have the juice for a Bluetooth connection, although perhaps a new version might feature that at a later date.
In the smart home era, this lack of connectivity isn’t really part of the grand plan, so there is room for improvement. With radios and chips using lower rates of power every generation, hopefully one will soon work in this frugal and inconsistent power environment.
Perhaps a small charging battery solution could help.
Update: The forthcoming B1 model does indeed come with Bluetooth functionality, it is due for launch sometime in 2016, so keep an eye out.
Otherwise, this update looks identical to the first model, so if you don’t feel the need for your shower routine to be beamed to the cloud then feel free to pick up the A1 model.
The current version works by creating a code every time you shower, or after every 10 liters of water usage. Enter this into the iOS or Android app, or the web portal to create a usage chart that helps monitor how much water you are saving.
Otherwise it is hard to find fault with the Amphiro A1 which is an almost elegant solution to a fairly niche but growing problem. Additional features we’d like to see in the next version include EPA certification to encourage rebates and further adoption, and a centigrade option for people that don’t read Fahrenheit.
The Amphiro A1 can help your family save money and water, and it is definitely at the more affordable end of smart home gadgets.
Sure it isn’t quite as smart as we’d like, but with the on-screen display you can encourage shower hogging children to cut back on use, or check the temperature before younger users get in.
If it lives up to the maker’s claims then you should be able to make your money back within a year, which is a far greater return on investment than most smart devices. And with the smarter version on the horizon, your bathroom could soon be a smarter and more Eco-friendly place.