Since the dry summers of 2018 and 2019, the water sector has paid increasing attention to saving water. Against that background, it is important to know how the general public can save water at home. This project addresses that question by combining new scientific insights into human behaviour with expertise in the field of distribution and hydroinformatics. The aim is to design a program that will help domestic consumers to use their water more efficiently. Data from smart water meters will be integrated with insights from behavioural sciences and knowledge about customer perspectives. SIMDEUM – a tool previously developed by KWR that describes options for saving water – is also being used.
Smart meters, customer perception and behaviour
The responsible and sustainable use of water is an increasingly important focus in the drinking water sector. For example, if customers use less water during a drought, there will be fewer problems in the mains network, and less damage to nature and the environment. But the question is whether, and how, customer behaviour can be steered effectively. Recent developments relating to smart water meters have generated a lot of interesting opportunities to provide people with an understanding of how they consume water. Particularly if this technology is combined with the latest insights into the wishes, perspectives and behaviour of consumers, it can be used effectively to encourage people to actually cut their water consumption.
Getting the message across with smart software
This project will produce a software design that helps people to achieve the maximum reduction in their domestic water consumption. By optimising registration and data analysis with smart water meters, it is possible to establish an accurate picture of when people take a shower, or use the washing machine or toilet. We can use that information to deliver very specific tips about how to use less water. But we do even more. Drawing on the latest understandings of customer wishes, we analyse customer thinking about the technology used in smart meters. In particular, we can look at why people may want to install a smart meter with smart software themselves, as well as their concerns or their thoughts about possible benefits. This analysis leads to the customer base being broken down into different categories, each of which will have different motives to save water. All this involves building on extensive international knowledge and experience with behavioural change.
The project delivers a design for software that can be further developed into an advanced tool for domestic water savings. Unlike existing types of smart meter, a new program of this kind delivers tips for savings that are tailored specifically to personal preferences, motives and patterns of water use. This will open up the way for a major step in raising awareness and optimising water savings and therefore in managing our water sources more sustainably.