Behavioral Feedback Loops
Using inexpensive sensor and display technology, large institutions can leverage behavioral feedback loops to curtail water-wasting behavior.

Solution

Water Savings with Feedback Loops

A behavioral feedback loop, in essence, is a mechanism that provides information about a person�s behavior, then uses it to nudge them towards actions.  There�s an excellent article in Wired giving an intro to how behavioral feedback loops work, available here: http://www.wired.com/magazine/2011/06/ff_feedbackloop/.  They�ve been demonstrated to be effective in curtailing speeding, getting people to exercise, and more.  

We already have the social context to know that we shouldn�t be wasting water - it�s the target of numerous advertising campaigns, and most people will agree that using excessive amounts of water is objectively a �bad� thing to do.

So why do we still do it?  One component is a lack of feedback about our behavior - when we�re in the shower or washing our hands, the abstract concept of �wasting water� isn�t top of mind.  

By implementing water flow rate meters (similar to an inexpensive consumer-grade meter like this http://www.amazon.com/AbsolutelyNew-Water-Saver-Usage-Meter/dp/B003QRLAQ2) on water pipes in sinks and showers, large institutions can communicate to users exactly how much water they�re consuming - this is the first element of the feedback loop.  A low-energy LED display or a small, waterproof LCD an be used.  

The next is suggesting a course of action - the meter or LCD can change color when it�s time to shut off the water.  

Suggesting the consequences of a person�s actions is another potential component - if an LCD is used, contextual images (a fishtank draining, a lake slowly emptying as water continues to flow) can reinforce why it�s �good� to take action.  Testing will determine whether the cost and energy usage for an LCD are offset by reduced water usage.  

There are several options for implementation, but the core principle is to reduce water in large institutions by using inexpensive sensor and display technology to address water-wasting behavior.  

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