How much water do you use? Between the shower and the toilet, bathrooms consume the most water in a household – about 43.5% of total residential water use, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Those of us in the Westernized countries tend to take water for granted – we turn on the faucet and it flows…unless, that is, you’ve lived through a drought or in an area prone to water scarcity, such as the Southwest.
Now there’s a fun gizmo to help you control how much water you use in the shower, and it’s as simple as pressing a little button.
Meet Waterpebble, a fun-sized gadget that monitors how much water you use per shower. You simple place the Waterpebble near the drain and press the reset button, and it will track how much water goes down the drain for the duration of your shower. After your first shower, Waterpebble uses its length as a reference point for all your future showers. Then, it trains you to use less water in each shower by automatically shortening the length bit by bit with each shower you take, gradually shaving down your water use.
The high-tech pebble cycles through a series of three “traffic lights,” blinking unobtrusively from green to yellow to red. Yellow marks the halfway point, and red signals that you have exceeded your average per shower water usage.
Waterpebble inventor Paul Priestman, from Great Britain where the company is based, was apparently inspired to create the product when he saw one of those “Please Use Water Sparingly” signs that are so common these days in a hotel bathroom. Priestman says he developed the concept on his trip home.
Waterpebble can be reset at any time to eliminate initial setting error. At this point, appears to be no available data to attest to the Waterpebble’s accuracy, or the sophistication of its sensors, but because it uses the same timing technology from shower to shower, the tracking will at least be consistent. It is similar to tracking your weight on a digital scale; even if the number you see is wrong, because you are weighing yourself on the same scale from day to day, you can track how much weight – in this case, water – you gain and lose.
While there are seemingly no studies on the product, there are a multitude of reviews. Perhaps because it is the only real alternative to monitoring your water use with the old-fashioned method (tracking your water meter and keeping an eye on your water bill), it is fairly popular among consumers. Many of their reviews cite an initial problem with the Waterpebble that has since been solved: originally, the product’s batteries were not replaceable, and the entire device needed to be replaced whenever the batteries died – about every four months. A newer version of the Waterpebble was developed to include replaceable batteries, eliminating this problem.
On the positive side, many people seem to be opting to purchase the Waterpebble as a means of teaching their children about water conservation. The majority of the customer reviews on Amazon mention consumers’ children, most of which acknowledge that the product does work. “It does what it says,” one review states. Another praises is: “This product…[promotes] a healthy environment and water conservation.”
Overall, Amazon’s review page for the Waterpebble shows that it has an average review rating of three stars – an interesting result, given that there are apparently an equal number of five-star reviews and one-star reviews. While many of the reviews categorized as “Most Helpful,” seem positive, if you dig a little deeper, you will find that overall, there is definitely a split opinion on the product’s success. “It wanted me to take about a one-minute shower…yeah right,” one consumer scoffed. Another agreed: “I ended up ignoring it, as it was always wrong.”
Despite the mixed opinions, it still seems worth it to give Waterpebble a try. Whether as a teaching tool for your kids or as a helpful reminder for yourself, it will at least make you more aware of your water use in the shower. And even that simple step toward living a greener life is well worth the ten-dollar cost.