Meter helps monitor water usage
With the severe drought in the Western Cape, the need for a tool that monitors and cuts water consumption is very real. Enter Geasy, a smart water meter and geyser controller developed by a group of Stellenbosch University engineers.
“It’s not rocket science what we’re doing,” says Thinus Booysen, co-creator of Geasy. “It’s very simple, but it has real long-term impact.”
Developed over a period of 18 months, the smart water meter and geyser controller cuts water and energy consumption through simply acknowledging water usage and waste.
“The main premise is it makes you aware of your water usage and gives you feedback,” says Booysen. “This is not only on a monthly basis — therefore bridging the gap between consumption and billing — but the meter is also programmed to send an SMS if too much water is used, or if there’s a leak.”
It can also be set as a timer to release water according to specific needs. This is especially useful for things such as urinals in public places. Geasy has installed these systems in 50 private homes and in five schools.
Through the Shoprite Act for Change project Geasy was able to go into Hector Peterson Secondary in Wallacedene, a zero-fee school with over 1 200 students. In mid-August 2017 a Geasy unit was installed to capture consumption data. It found that the average weekday consumption for the school was 47 000 litres. At the weekend, this dropped slightly to 37 000 litres. The rate that water flowed through the meter, regardless of the time of the week, showed that the school was losing a great deal of water through leaks.
Two weeks after installation the team visited the school to inspect the plumbing and to determine where the water was going. It was evident that toilets and leaky valves were the main problems, with 20 of the 40 toilets malfunctioning. The problems included flushers that were stuck open and float arms that were bent and never closed. The faulty toilets and valves were replaced. This simple step dropped the rate of water flowing past the meter by 49%.
Since the complete intervention, the entire consumption dropped to 13 000 per weekday, a 72% reduction for weekdays, and a 100% reduction for weekend days. This is projected to reduce the school’s monthly water bill by R46 000, equivalent to two teacher’s salaries.
Better levels of water efficiency have been achieved in Mpumalanga, where Geasy has been doing similar work with homeowners. That first step of knowing how much water is being used is critical, as it allows consumers to change their habits.
With climate projections for much of the country showing that water will become increasingly precious, measures such as this are critical. Knowledge is power. While restrictions are in place in Cape Town, consumers still have no easy way of telling how much water they are using on any given day.
Geasy has its sights set on changing this.