Running a technology startup that deals with water, I thought it might be useful to share water use data for our home and how using the Hydroid smart water meter has impacted how we manage water.

Since I started monitoring my water with Hydroid a year ago, I’ve found out a few things:

  • Lot's of stuff leaks around a house
  • I had a leaky toilet (that’s hard to fix, by the way!)
  • Our pets and plants are very thirsty
  • Organic gardening can require a LOT of water in sizzling Texas summers

Finding Leaks

Many households have small leaks that go undetected for months and maybe even years. Hydroid will find them. Our Hydroid alerted us to a continuous trickle leak from a toilet in our house leaking .01 gallons per minute.  It was almost undetectable with the naked eye.

Doesn't sound like much, right?

However, that small leak equals 1.28 ounces per minute or 14.4 gallons per day, 100 gallons per week, 432 gallons per month and 5,256 gallons per year. If it were hidden in a wall, we'd never know it without Hydroid, and it could cause thousands in damage, potentially leading to dangerous mold.

When we went on a vacation to Colorado last year, a friend was tending to the house and pets for us.  During his morning visit, he inadvertently left a toilet running. Hydroid notified me of the running water via Hydroid's iPhone app. I was able to shut off our household water supply from my phone, which was honestly just super cool. I do a lot of testing with Hydroid.  Opening the water valve, closing the water valve etc. But, experiencing an actual water problem in my own house and stopping the flow from two states over was awesome.

Measuring Household Water Consumption

We live on five acres of land in a relatively suburban part of San Marcos, in a wooded, natural area complete with deer, foxes and road runners, among others. My wife and I have a lot of animals that we care for - a mustang horse named Esperanza, two bull-mastiff dogs, four cats and four chickens. All these animals require adequate water, along with several ponds we fill for wildlife and the colony of bats that reside in a protected cave on our property.

Our home uses water from a well that’s approximately 75 feet deep. The Hydroid smart water meter is installed on the line coming into the house, and it monitors water flow and relays it via the cloud to my smartphone. From the Hydroid app, we can see exactly when and how much water our house and irrigation uses.

 

Daily Water Use
Usage varies with the day and outdoor watering needs

 

On the days when we refill all the animals’ water, such as the horse trough, ponds, and bird baths, the water use shoots up about 200%. Prior to using Hydroid, I had no idea this took so much water! Now that I’m monitoring our water so closely, I’ll start to share exactly how much water we use for things like: Animal water troughs, ponds, organic vegetable garden, outdoor cleaning such as using the power washer, and whatever else we can discover!

Water Use for Organic Gardening

In the United States, average household use is 3,000 gallons per person per month (source). In our household, we use less than the national average throughout the winter months, but when the scorching Texas spring comes around, with consecutive 90 plus degree days and no rain, our water use grows significantly to compensate.

 

Monthly Water Totals and Temp
Water use doubles and keeps growing as temps rise and rain totals fall to zero

 

My wife and I are avid organic vegetable gardeners. We’ve been gardening for about 22 years. It brings us both a lot of joy.

Well, except when it gets really hard, like pouring a raised concrete bed, moving 40-pound limestone rocks or shoveling a truckload of soil. But, generally it’s more or less enjoyable. Some seasons we garden with fervor and are rewarded with bountiful success. But, much of the time we garden as hobbyists; with a little less dedication and only a modicum of success ( modicum: the condition where everything in the garden dies except the bugs and pests).

Living in San Marcos, which is in the heart of the Texas Hill Country, gardening can require some serious knowledge and dedication. The summer months bring triple-digit temperatures and searing sun, and the heat-loving plants that tend to thrive in the summer end up freezing during the winter months. The weather is unpredictable: we can experience long periods of drought-like conditions or weeks of continuous, heavy rains. And what survives all that just might get eaten by bugs or deer. It’s an uphill battle!

Unfortunately for my wife and my garden, I’m generally lazy about acquiring any useful gardening knowledge. Because of this fact, my wife is really the brains of the operation and I’m left pouring concrete beds, moving heavy rocks and shoveling dirt. (Journaling is very personally revealing I’m realizing. This might be my last gardening blog.)

What I’ve learned is that I still have a lot to learn.

Organic Gardening Vegetables 1We’re on the Northwest side of the Balcones escarpment. That puts us in a region with little soil and lots of limestone rock. The Karst geography means we have porous limestone rocks under foot and caves that hold the precious water we use. (And we have a batcave. Yep, a real batcave with thousands of bats. But I’ll share some stories about that on another day.) The lack of soil makes it difficult to find a patch of earth where we can plant. We tried to garden in the ground early on, but realized we’d have much more success container gardening. For the past 14 years, we’ve more or less been container gardening.

For the past few months I’ve been experimenting with watering schedules and water amounts for the raised bed garden. I’m trying to dial in the exact amount of water that the plants need to thrive is this hot Texas weather. I’ve been tracking my water use with Hydriod. I’ll share the details from that experiment in an upcoming blog post.

Stay tuned!

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