Save Money, Save Energy, Save Water

In the UK water conservation has been almost treated with derision.  Excepting the summer of 1976, water restrictions are limited to occasional hose pipe bans.  However, the wider impact of excessive water usage is now becoming recognised.

The connections between water, the environment and energy costs are being highlighted by organisations as diverse as the United Nations through to local conservation groups.  

“The energy used to heat water for devices and appliances emits an average of 875kg of CO2 per household per year. This is equivalent to the CO2 emissions from driving more than 1,700 miles in an average family car.” [1,2] - Energy Saving Trust


To many the more immediate issue is energy prices.  At the recent Waterwise Conference Heidi Mottram, CEO, Northumbrian Water highlighted the fact that on average 25% of energy used in the home is to heat water.  Whilst water efficient appliances, like dishwashers and washing machines, can reduce domestic water and energy usage, much of this hot water used in ‘time critical’ usage e.g. taking a shower or running the tap to rinse dishes.  

The national average consumption is 141 litres of water per day.  UK government targets are to reduce this by around one third.  This reduction was initially set to achieve environmental and sustainability targets; however this level of reduction would have a significant impact on tenants energy costs.

Water Meters – supporting behavioural change
Awareness of usage and cost enables consumers to reduce their usage.  Although smart meters are not widely used in the water industry yet, the evidence of energy meters shows that this ‘customer education’ impacts on usage.

The problem with ‘smart’ water meters is that many properties have architectural or water supply structures that make traditional metering options impractical.  Groundbreaker is an insulated, surface mounted enclosure for a secure water management system and smart meter.  The point of entry location makes it the perfect solution for installation in existing properties with shared supply or challenging architecture.  Its location on the building also means no street furniture or liability in the highway.

Surface mounted meter housings are an ideal location for the new generation of ultra-smart (5G) two-way metering and ‘internet of things’ (IOT) technologies.  The above ground location allows stronger communications signal strength compared to traditional underground installations.


Controlled flow – unconscious consumption reduction
‘Time controlled’ usage e.g. cleaning teeth or taking a shower, can use excessive water.  The simple measure of regulating the flow and pressure of the water supply to a particular outlet has been shown to significantly impact household usage.  Low flow shower heads or aerators for taps are widely available, but costs can build up.

Our water companies are regulated to provide a minimum level of water but in many areas, due to network structure and gravity fed systems, supply is much greater.  So run a hose for five minutes at the bottom of the hill, and your lawn will be greener that the gardener that does the same at the top.  These ‘time controlled’ uses could be standardized down so all households receive the same acceptable ‘minimum’ supply.  

Groundbreaker’s NRv2 LoFLo can help modulate the level of flow entering the property, regardless of the network pressure.  As the flow of water into the premises in limited, then the amount used by the customer for ‘time controlled’ usage is limited – but without providing a degradation of service.  More importantly it does not require any intervention or behavioural change on part of the consumer.  Recent trails by a UK water company have shown reductions in household water consumption by up to 20%.  

The NRv2 can be easily and simply retrofitted to any meter installation, or meter exchange when upgrading or remediating underground meter chambers.  Thus providing water demand management with little or no impact on consumers and at minimal cost.

A simple solution at approximately £20 per household, fitted on the normal meter exchange/upgrade cycle could achieve in excess of 20% of our consumption target in 10 years.

Steve Leigh FIWater, Managing Director Groundbreaker Systems

Groundbreaker Systems won the HBF’s ‘Utility of the Year’ in 2018.