Wednesday, September 9, 2015

New Toys

I have to admit the consumer in me is gratified to get some new toys.  I recently picked up some cheap flow meters and a moisture sensor.  (I know, I'm easily amused.)  I especially like the design concept of the moisture sensor, which is powered by the galvanic reaction of the zinc and copper sections of the probe with the dissolved minerals in the soil.  The point is to use just enough water to irrigate (trees and gardens), and to measure that irrigation water use in order to calculate a baseline for "other" household water use, which will feed into a new water conservation incentive program.  Like most multifamily properties in this area, Sage Garden has a single city water meter and a single water bill for the whole property, which the owner pays.  It's an arrangement that works well enough for most places, but the drawback is that the people making the decisions about household water use have absolutely no feedback about how much they are using, and no incentive to use water prudently.  My intent (in the rough concept stage) is to introduce a simple, cooperative, rebate-based incentive program that encourages conservation, shares utility savings with residents, and has no downside for the owner.

As a related footnote, we recently started test driving a consensus-based efficiency improvement program in which the property owner invests in an efficiency improvement (e.g. programmable thermostats), and that investment is recuperated through a voluntary, temporary rent adjustment that is calculated to benefit both parties.