Personally, I find gnomes more than a little creepy. But here’s one that I wouldn’t mind tending to my garden (if I had one).
Commercial water management firm ET Water Systems, is out to help consumers save on their water bills and prevent damage to their plants from over-watering. With the release of Gnome, a free, web-based service, ET Water is taking some of the company’s know-how, stemming from years of helping commercial facilities make the most out of every drop of water, and extending it to homeowners.
Getting started with Gnome is pretty straight forward. After registering, you enter your location, some details about your landscape and the type of watering system in use. Gnome then gets to work creating a monthly schedule for your irrigation or sprinkler system that minimizes water waste. Even better, it employs WeatherBug data to fine-tune the schedule and deliver alerts.
For example, if there’s wet weather on the horizon, users will receive a friendly reminder to adjust their watering schedules and take advantage of nature’s free gift. All told, Gnome helps lower “water consumption by over-irrigators by 20 to 50 percent or more versus conventional clock-based “set it and leave it” irrigation schedules,” according to the company. Not shabby at all.
Bringing water management home
Though the shuttering of Google’s Powermeter and Microsoft’s Hohm energy management platforms may give companies pause in selling conservation to consumers, ET Water’s Gnome service has one thing going for it: focus.
Whereas Google and Microsoft fought an uphill battle that encompassed uncooperative utilities, an immature and fragmented smart energy market and a healthy dose of consumer apathy, ET Water laser focuses on a market that can get downright obsessive about its passions. Budding landscapers, gardeners and lawn obsessives are known to put a lot of research into their craft/hobby and splurge on equipment that helps them maximize their curb appeal, so a high level of engagement is a given. Gnome could help free up time and eliminate a lot of guess (and leg) work. And what’s better than a free web app? One thing that I would like to see is a robust social/community component, an area in which Google and Microsoft were weak despite their expertise in collecting and applying crowdsourced data.
More importantly, Gnome can help get water management into the home though the back door, or back porch, so to speak. While companies like IBM are primarily targeting industrial and municipal entities for their water management efforts, the home is a nice little blind spot to exploit. Sure, it’s limited to home landscaping and lawn care for now, and there’s a fair amount of manual intervention, but every market starts somewhere.