So begins the second installment in our Toilet Reading series. We have already looked backward at the history of plumbing, today we will choose instead to focus on the highly-advanced ergonomic, ecologic and economic future of plumbing.
Sit back and let us take you into the future.
In our last blog post, we shed light on all the reasons to be grateful for an era in which our plumbing systems are not only existent but reliable and well-contained also.
What does the future hold, though? Could it be that the fixtures on which we rely for day-to-day activities are about to take an even bigger step forward? The answer is yes.
Technology and innovation are making these updates possible. The more our homes, cars and phones become smarter, the higher the standard becomes for everything in our life to function similarly.
Gone are the days of your home being a collection of rooms in which you house and use technology. The home is becoming, and in a few cases has already become, a technological appliance itself.
Imagine this – after you get done washing and drying your hands, you go to the sink to fill up a can to water the house plants. That water that comes out is the same water you used to wash your hands. This sounds kind of crazy, right?
It just so happens that it’s not as crazy as it sounds. What you would be using is a relatively-new concept that is recycled gray water. The Miriam-Webster dictionary defines gray water as “household wastewater (as from a sink or bath) that does not contain serious contaminants (as from toilets or diapers).”
Gray water systems allow you flush your toilet without wasting gallons of fresh, clean water every day. They also provide a better tiered system for use and reuse, making waste treatment systems more efficient.
How likely are you to see your dishwater return when you flush your toilet? Well that remains to be seen, a few issues have complicated the implementation of gray water systems.
- Cost-effectiveness – With water already being the least expensive resource in most places, implementing gray water recycling systems has just not had impactful cost-effectiveness numbers. For most Americans, the ROI is not immediate and may not be in the black at all if the system requires regular maintenance.
- Legality – Many cities and towns across the United States have passed laws against using gray water for plant irrigation or toilet flushing. In these places, laws would need to change before recycled-water systems could be implemented on a micro, household-by-household scale.
While these challenges spell difficulty for a mass-market availability and adoption, gray water is a more promising solution on a large, or macro, scale. In these situations, gray water would be collected by water treatment facilities and delivered back to households via dual-pipe networks.
This would be beneficial on a large scale, as it would lower the cost of this gray water and provide a more earth-friendly solution to ubiquitous clean water usage.
You may have heard about, read about or even invested in some elements of a smart home already. This buzzword in the home technology world has come to mean a lot. A programmable coffeemaker that begins to heat water at 5:00 in the morning is as much an element of a smart home as a thermostat that knows everybody in the house’s preferences for temperature and adjusts accordingly.
So what does the smart home revolution mean for your plumbing? Quite a bit, actually.
First and foremost, plumbing fixtures have received an unprecedented injection of technology in the last few years. Smart toilets, smart showerheads and smart water heaters are re-inventing products that have received notoriously few changes since their inceptions.
- The Numi Toilet – A stylish and technologically-advanced toilet that provides motion activated opening and closing, bidet wand with air dryer, deodorizer and user settings liked seat temperature, foot temperature and ambient lighting. All of these features combined with a dual-flush for water conservation, and you will have a hard time finding a toilet smarter than the Numi.
- The Smart Hydro Bathtub – In the style of the Numi, the Smart Hydro from Brazilian company iHouse features LED lighting, whirlpool feature, self-cleaning and programmable options that give users control over water-volume, bath essence, temperature and lighting. The bath is designed to be energy efficient and provide the perfect amount of water.
Do I think everybody’s going to have a Numi in their bathroom in 20 years? Probably not. Do I see these innovative products bringing features to the table which in five to ten years could easily become the standard? Certainly. The industry is rapidly moving in the direction of customization and cutting down excess water usage.