Smart Water Meters
By Darren A. Cooper
A key to going Net Zero by 2050, gain control, save money and help the environment with greater visibility into water flow.
By Darren A. Cooper
With Canada on the path to investing millions of dollars to increase efficiencies, sustainability and reduce our carbon footprint, smart water meters are stepping-in and replacing conventional, mechanical meters.
These next generation water meters offer immediate end-user benefits with more detailed and accurate consumption data, and with greater visibility of their water use, consumers are better equipped to change their behaviour, consume less and see results on their monthly bills.
The days when water was simply consumed without constraint at a low yearly cost is long gone. Water is a precious and limited resource that can and must be metered as accurately as possible to promote conservation.
The powerful information businesses will gain using smart versus mechanical water metering will provide companies with the insight needed to know where to focus their operational efforts and goals.
Providing real-time updates, smart water meters allow businesses, or property managers for example, to monitor their water usage as it happens. Through an online dashboard, they can understand when and where water in the building is used. Monthly, daily and real-time consumption can also be displayed in easy-to-understand graphs.
The increased access to information provides visibility for businesses right through to the end-user to discover problems a lot sooner and evaluate improvements easier than with traditional mechanical metering.
Modern ultrasonic water meters are accurate, quick and simple to use, and once businesses adopt monitoring methods, they’ll find more opportunities to optimize their water usage, have less waste, conserve energy and save money.
Treating and delivering water takes a lot of energy. Running the hot water faucet for five minutes uses about the same amount of energy as burning a 60-watt bulb for 14 hours.
Traditional water meters are not only less accurate than smart meters, but they tend to lose accuracy over time. The equipment must be replaced every 15-20 years on average.
One of the biggest water management problems for utilities is inaccurate readings. They can result in inaccurate billing and many customer complaints.
A smart meter is more sensitive to low water flows, making it noticeably more accurate and providing in-depth reports. In contrast, a traditional water meter measures total consumption of a building or home, meaning leaks are difficult to detect and customers struggle to pinpoint inefficiencies.
Imagine a scenario where a company’s heating system is leaking water. If the problem goes unnoticed in the basement, the building manager is on the hook for thousands of gallons of wasted water, resulting in an unnecessary expense, potential water damage and mould and humidity issues.
Now imagine that same building manager has the ability to detect that the water has been running in the basement at this facility for the past 24 hours. Detecting, managing and fixing this utility issue in a timely manner not only helps solve a wasteful situation, but it also alleviates other potential complications to the building and its occupants.
Traditional water meters do not perform well when it comes to detecting and measuring low flows, missing the mark and signal on detecting leaks. The new generation smart water metering technologies are sensitive to low flows making them more reliable at detecting and reporting leaks.
“Smart Meter with Ears”
Non-revenue water, or lost water, through physical losses such as leaks in water mains has been an ongoing problem for both municipal and multi-storey building water systems. Many utilities and building owners have struggled to locate these leaks, which are like finding a needle in a haystack.
New acoustic leak-detection technologies use sound waves to help locate leaks in distribution systems and prioritize leak repair by identifying the largest leaks. Having the means to target the problem area(s) for repair or replacement is important for effective building management and water conservation.
Kamstrup, a Danish company with more than 25 years of experience with metering and devices, and a third-party agency conducted a survey among 37 utilities in Northern Europe, finding that 31% of the water loss comes from leaks in service connections and 36% from leaks on distribution mains.
Driven by this data, Kampstrup developed a system that combines smart metering and acoustic leak detection technologies. These hybrid meters, “Smart Meters with Ears”, are not a substitute for traditional acoustic leak detection technologies, but rather they are complementary in that they target the areas that have an increased risk of a leakage and will require further investigation, enabling a more targeted effort to reduce water loss.
Cleaner & Greener
Smart metering provides a basis for businesses to improve their daily consumption and overall building operations. With a better understanding of usage, it’s easier to see where small changes can be made to reduce energy consumption and lower energy emissions. This leads to lower bill payments and a smaller carbon footprint.
Smart metering also opens the door to better manage the supply and demand of energy to reduce waste, and also shift energy usage away from traditional peak times – which are currently reliant on fossil fuel energy, making more use of renewables.
Smart meters also provide more flexibility to businesses. By monitoring usage through collecting, analyzing and reporting on consumption, supply and demand, it can then be determined how to save water during peak times or other significant times of the year.
We all want an energy system that is geared to the future, not the past. And to make big changes, sometimes we have to start small. Smart meters can’t solve climate change on their own, but with a smarter, more efficient energy system they help to create a noticeable step in the right direction.
Darren A. Cooper, P.Eng, LEED AP, CBCP, is president Renteknik Group Inc., a team of professionals with engineering, project management, supply chain, financial and business expertise with a goal of guiding and educating commercial, industrial, municipal, institutional and multi-residential clients on how to maximize operational efficiency, reduce energy consumption, achieve energy savings and improve productivity. renteknikgroup.com