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Energy Your Home

339: Energy-efficient shower head

Problem:

Spending too long taking a shower in the bathroom is energy inefficient in both water and electricity. According to Ademe’s estimates, the shower represents 40% of the water consumed by a household.

Solutions:

Gabriel Della-Monica has invented Hydrao, a LED shower head which automatically changes colour depending on shower length to make you aware of how long you have been showering.

This shower head also has an integrated flow restrictor disc to limit the water flow rate to 2.6 gallons per minute (10 litres/min). Della-Monica, a telecoms engineer, has 4 teenage daughters at home, and was also looking for ways to reduce his water bill and to have some hot water left over in the morning.

During the first 3 minutes of showering, the LEDs glow green with approximately 8 gallons (30 litres) total water consumption, from 3 to 5 minutes: the LEDs glow orange,5 to 6 minutes: the LEDs glow red (approx. 15.8 gallons/ 60 litres) total water consumption and from 6 minutes after, the LEDS blink red.

In 2015, Della-Monica founded the Hydrao startup in Grenoble as part of French Tech, the Minalogic technology cluster and the GreenTech Verte incubator overseen by the French Minister of the Environment.

Following the company’s first ever award for Best-in-Innovation from ST Microelectronics, HYDRAO has since garnered numerous awards both in France and abroad: amongst which are a 2016 CES Innovation Award and two 2017 CES Innovation Awards and two 2017 UK Water Efficiency Product Awards from the well-respected NGO Waterwise. (hydrao.com)

A mist shower atomizes water to very fine drops (less than 10 microns), which greatly reduces the water flow. Buckminster Fuller invented the first one in 1936 as part of his Dymaxion bathroom (he called it a “fog gun”). The idea was taken up again in the 1970s, when several trials and experiments were conducted with both atomised hand washing and showering.

In San Francisco, USA, Nebia Spa Shower was developed in 2014 as a prototype designed to cut down on water usage in Mexico’s largest athletic club chain, where one of the company’s co-founders, Carlos Gomez Andonaegui, was CEO. By utilizing the same technologies that engineers use for rocket engines and medical devices, the Nebia (= “mist” in Italian), developed by a team of world-class thermo and mechanical engineers, industrial designers, atomizes the water stream into tiny droplets, allowing 10 times the surface area to be covered with only a fraction of the water volume; all while maintaining water pressure and decreasing water wastage.

Soon, Nebia made its way as a beta product onto the campuses of Google and Apple, with the fledgling startup eventually wooing prestigious Silicon Valley investors including Tim Cook and Eric Schmidt. Patent US20160059243A1 was granted 2018. In four years, Nebia 1.0 claim to have saved 100 million gallons (380 million litres) of water. In 2019 Nebia teamed up with Moen to develop the Nebia 2.0, designed to save 65% of the water and 60% of the heating energy used by a standard shower. (nebia.com)

In the Netherlands, Jonas Görgen, a young designer who graduated from the Design Academy Eindhoven in 2019, became fascinated by the history of the mist shower and decided to build one himself. Compared to earlier mist showers, Görgen has improved the concept in two important ways. First, he developed a kit that can turn almost any shower into a mist shower with very little effort. Second, in contrast to earlier experiments, his mist shower uses not one but three to six nozzles. It costs far less than the Nebia.

Another alternative solution is Ilya, a cyclic shower, developed by Simon Buoro, Antoine Escande and Nathan Guiraud, three engineers graduated from INSA, the National Institute of Applied Sciences in Toulouse, France. With each new shower taken, the system draws 10 to 20 pints (5 to 10 liters) of water from the water network, as would be the case with a conventional shower.
These few litres of water correspond to the volume of water required to fill the system and guarantee closed circuit operation in the various subsystems (filter, heater, etc.) of the cyclic shower. This is possible because it turns out that the shower water is in fact very little polluted, especially if natural soap and shampoo are used. For a conventional shower the water is heated to 40 degrees at a cost. With this cyclic system, energy consumption is lower because the recovered water is still hot.

What you can do: Reduce your environmental impact by using an energy efficient showerhead

Discover Solution 340: Pods for coffee

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