There's nothing like putting real time water and energy usage information in your face to change people's shower habits, and that's just what Amphiro's a1 self-powered water and energy meter does. It connects between the shower hose and a handheld showerhead and, like the Driblet, generates the electricity required to power it from the flow of water running through it.
The a1 is currently only available in Europe, where Amphiro says it achieved sales of over 7,000 units in the first three months after launch. The device was the subject of a study supported by the Swiss Federal Office of Energy involving 700 Swiss households, which saw average savings of 440 kWh of heat energy and 2,250 gallons (8,500 L) of water per household, per year. The Swiss company, which is a spinoff from ETH Zurich, has now turned to crowdfunding to pursue wider distribution and launch two new models.
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The original a1 model is activated once the taps are turned and water starts flowing. For the duration of the shower, the display shows water temperature and the volume of water used, along with a climate animation featuring a polar bear. When the water is turned off, the display rates the energy efficiency class of the shower from A+ to G- and the energy consumption in watt-hours or kilowatt-hours. The device them automatically turns itself off three minutes after the water flow has stopped. If the shower is turned back on within three minutes, the meter will pick up where it left off.
The new a1 control model features the same form factor as the a1, but provides users with more detailed information. In addition to the temperature, volume and energy efficiency class, the a1 control also displays real time energy consumption data while the user is showering, along with the current shower duration. The polar bear animation has been ditched in favor of a progress bar that provides a comparison with the average consumption of the ten previous showers.
But for families with kids who are likely to prefer a polar bear animation to a list of numbers, Amphiro has also developed the a1 arctic. The form factor is again the same as the other models, but the information displayed is much more basic, with just the shower duration and polar bear animation displayed during the shower.
This animation starts with the polar bear sitting pretty on a floe with icebergs and an igloo in the background, but things get progressively worse for our furry friend as the shower continues, ending up with the bear swimming in the ocean with a life saver before disappearing completely. The a1 arctic displays water and energy consumption once the shower is complete.
Users of all models can access further data by accessing Amphiro's free online portal. Because none of the meters feature any wireless communication capabilities, a code is displayed on the device after each shower. Users can enter this code into the web portal to view their average water and energy consumption over time, usage trends, and comparisons with other households. The portal retains information from the user's last 150 showers.
Amphiro has launched a crowdfunding campaign on indiegogo in an effort to bring the a1 to wider markets and begin mass production of the a1 control and a1 arctic models. The campaign is listed as a Flexible Funding campaign, so all funds pledged will be collected even if the goal isn't reached. However, Amphiro says it will compensate all funders with an original a1 if it fails to raise enough funds to produce the control and arctic variants.
The a1 control and a1 arctic can be reserved for a minimum pledge of US$65, while the original a1 is available for $79. European shoppers can also purchase the original a1 for €59.90 (US$81) from the Amphiro website.
Amphiro's video pitch can be viewed below.