Smart meters have already become an essential component of the modern-day electrical grids and are now finding their way in the water utilities. Currently, in a world where people are perishing due to lack of water, these meters are the breakthrough innovation that water utilities can use to provide everyone with potable water.
Unlike traditional water gauges, smart water meters are a part of a wide area network that allow utilities and consumers to engage in two-way communication. These meters help water suppliers to enhance their water distribution network and incorporate robust water conservation & management practices.
In the operational, industrial and consumer vertical, these meters offer numerous benefits. Let us go through some of these advantages:
1) Dynamic Water Billing
As we discussed, these smart water meters with IoT supports a two-way interaction between water distributors and end consumers. This means that the water supplier can monitor the consumption of individual houses that are connected to its network in real-time. Hence, the need for sending a person to take onsite meter readings every month for billing end consumers is eliminated.
Based on the amount of water that a house uses every day, the IoT system can automatically calculate the bill and send it to the consumers each month. This dynamic billing help utilities reduce operational complexity and cut costs associated with manual billing procedures.
2) Rationing Water Consumption
Modern-day IoT water flow meters are now embedded with a valve that can be controlled remotely. This valve enable users (generally factories and plants) to regulate the flow of water and manage their water consumption in order to optimize their operational processes while saving costs.
Normally, water consumption is rationed on the basis of:
Water rationing via consumption monitoring is used to reduce overflow conditions. While filling tanks or cisterns, it is essential to keep an eye on the water level to avoid overfills and water wastage. To automate these processes, consumption thresholds (based on tank capacities) can be calibrated and programmed to cut the water supply through valves after a particular time interval.
This rationing is also very useful during droughts when water is scarce. In 2018, the city of Cape Town in South Africa extended its days with running tap water by three to four months by limiting every person's water needs by 50 liters per day. This may seem an unfair practice, but it really helps in conserving drinkable water. The remote valve control system in smart water meters can hence be used to preserve and manage water in harsh weather.
Time of use:
Limiting outdoor watering and irrigation in afternoon hours is the primary example of controlling water flow based on time of use. To regulate the temperature of the soil in summers and maintain their lush green gardens, many consumers keep their sprinklers unnecessarily on throughout the day. By using remote valve control, the consumption of water can be limited to irrigate lawns as per requirement and hence water can be preserved.
3) Customers Identifying Consumption Inefficiencies
Identifying consumption patterns and inefficiencies is another application of smart meters. Along with an IoT platform suite, these smart meters allow consumers to keep a track of the timing and volume of water they consume every day. By monitoring this data, users can find consumption inefficiencies and incorporate practices that result in over-consumption of water.
Smart water meters with IoT can also be used by consumers to identify leaks and water wastage. For instance, at some point in a 24-hour period, the reading in the water meters must drop to zero. The IoT platform can be calibrated in a manner that it sends an alert to the user in case the meter does not stop in this period, indicating leaks or water wastage. Hence, the user can repair leaks and include strategic practices to reduce water consumption.
4) Visibility in Conservation Efforts
Water utilities and suppliers generally lack clear transparency in their water conservation attempts. IoT smart water meters with its two-way interaction help water distributors to gain clear visibility into the consumption patterns of their end consumers and the results of their conservation programs.
For example, for their odd-even outdoor watering program, the water supplier can see the aftereffects of its implementationâ€”that too in a graphical format. Along with the utilities, consumers can also benefit from these meters to reduce their bills. From the IoT platform suite, they can monitor their water consumption practices on a daily basis and gain alerts when they exceed specific water tier limits and reach a higher-priced bracket.
5) Reduction in Non-Revenue Water
Non-revenue water refers to distributed water that isnâ€™t paid for. In other words, it is water that doesnâ€™t reach the end consumers or isnâ€™t recorded by their meters due to lower efficiency. The main causes that contribute to the non-revenue water are:
- â€˘ Leaks
- â€˘ Theft
- â€˘ Meter inefficiencies
- â€˘ Water main break
By using IoT water flow meters, the water utilities can monitor their water distribution network and make sure that:
â€śQuantity of water consumed = Quantity of water deliveredâ€ť
The smart water meters are much more efficient than the traditional meters. Also, unlike these obsolete gauges, the efficiency of smart meters does not depreciate with time. This reduces the generation of non-revenue water due to meter inefficiencies and helps water suppliers to increase their revenue margin.
Smart meters are changing the way utilities operateâ€”let it be the energy or water segment. The use of these meters along with a well-crafted IoT solution allow water utilities to manage their water distribution practices and provide their customers with clean potable water. These meters are also empowering the consumers to see the value of water meter in reducing cost linked with their consumption of water.