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Smart water meters cause people to use more not less water

smart water meter

From the Department of Unexpected Results: Contrary to the cherished assumption that real-time water metering  will help people use less water, Aurora CO discovered the exact opposite happened. Residents with shiny new smart water meters used more water not less. Say what?

Here’s what happened:

Aurora is one of many U.S. cities that has implemented “increasing block rates” – low rates for basic water use, then rising rates per unit water used if you’re more profligate. What they found the smart meters do is help users realize when they’re over or under the block. If they’re a bit over, the smart meter helps them conserve to drop down to the lower priced block. This saves water. But for users who aren’t close to the level where their use would bump them into the higher block, the additional information seems to make them comfortable using more water: “Hey, the longer shower isn’t a big deal, because it’s not enough to bump me up into the higher block.”

Maybe the pricing tiers need to be closer together?

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