For further articles in German and other languages, please scroll down to the press review. There you can find all the links.
The average household uses 2'000 kWh of energy every year only for water heating. This is more than what is used for lighting, cooking, electronic devices and the refrigerator together. Every morning, you can influence a large part of that energy usage – in the shower. Our product shows your hot water consumption in real time and helps you reduce your carbon footprint in an entertaining way. With amphiro a1, the typical household saves 440 kWh of energy as well as 8'500 liters (2'250 gallons) of drinking water and waste water - year by year.
amphiro a1 is an innovative design component that perfectly integrates between the shower hose and the handheld shower head. More than 7’000 units have been sold in Switzerland alone in the first three months after the product launch. A study with 700 households for the Swiss Federal Office of Energy has shown that the device yields average savings of 440 kWh of heat energy and 8'500 liters (2'250 gallons) of drinking water per year and household.
amphiro a1 does not require any batteries. The device is powered by a small generator that harvests the energy for the display and electronic components from the water flow. As soon as water runs through the device, the display switches on and the smart shower meter starts measuring the water and energy consumption.
The device display shows your current water consumption, the water temperature, your energy consumption and the associated energy efficiency class (like the appliance rating, e.g. on refrigerators). Besides, a polar bear animation visualizes your energy consumption.
You can carry out the installation manually in three quick and simple steps - tools and DIY experience are not required.
At our web portal, you can monitor your average shower data and track your consumption trends over time. After every shower, the display shows a new online code which contains your average consumption values. By entering the online code once a month into our portal, you will get a good visual impression of your average consumption over time.
Besides the existing portal, we are working on a mobile application for smart phones and tablets. The application will be available for iOS and Android operating systems and will be released soon. Here is a first preview:
Both the portal and the application are free of charge. The current device edition does not send any data. Data transmission is realized by the above mentioned online code.
amphiro a1 displays your energy and water consumption in real time while showering. Consequently, users gain awareness of their individual energy use and can pursue savings goals. The feedback helps to use heat energy more consciously and motivates a more sustainable usage of valuable resources.
If implemented properly, real-time consumption feedback engages users to considerably change their behavior. amphiro a1 provides users with straightforward and actionable feedback right at the point of consumption. In the shower users also have direct control of their consumption. By reducing shower consumption by 23% on average, the device outperforms the energy savings of typical smart metering infrastructure for electricity (with in-home displays) by factor 5 in terms of the yearly kWh reduction.
amphiro a1 arctic displays the individual consumption in a more playful way. This version is for everyone who prefers visual content to digits and number-based metrics and who easily feels overwhelmed by a huge amount of information. The device is particularly suitable for families with kids.
During your shower, amphiro a1 arctic shows the shower time in minutes and seconds. A polar bear is sitting on a floe with icebergs and an igloo in the background. As consumption increases, the polar bear’s natural environment melts away. Finally, the polar bear swims in the ocean with a life saver before it disappears completely. The only consumption indicator during the shower is the shower duration. Once the water is turned off, water consumption and energy consumption are also displayed on top of the display.
This version is ideal to educate kids towards a more sustainable and conscious usage of water and energy.
amphiro a1 control is the version for quantified-self advocates and for people who like to get detailed information. amphiro a1 control will display almost all the information that the device measures and calculates, including a comparison with the average consumption of the ten previous showers. This helps you to define concrete savings goals, and to steadily reduce your consumption over time.
During the shower the amount of water and the water temperature will be displayed. The progress bar in the lower part of the display shows your current water consumption relative to the average of your last ten showers. After a while, the display will switch to shower time, the current energy efficiency class, and a comparative progress bar. As a third display mode, amphiro a1 control features the energy consumption along with the corresponding energy efficiency class and a progress bar. Thanks to the energy efficiency class, you can not only compare your shower consumption to your showers in the past, but also with a user-independent energy efficiency scale.
Amphiro is a start-up company in the emerging field of smart water metering. Our competence lies in the development of energy harvesting and smart metering technology as well as in behavioral incentives derived from the social sciences to improve energy efficiency. We own a broad IP portfolio and are a dynamic and creative team.
Our interdisciplinary team includes electrical engineers, mechanical engineers, software engineers, information systems researchers, designers and psychologists.
The Amphiro team is working very hard on its goal of fostering the awareness for energy and water consumption in a large number of households and to significantly help users to reduce the environmental impact in their daily life.
After the success of amphiro a1, we want to bring the device to the next level to effectively reach a broader audience. We guarantee you that the product presented above is not just a mock-up, but a product that has already proven in several thousand households its reliability and its capability to successfully engage users to considerably reducing their energy and water consumption.
In order to bring the two new variants to life, software engineers, designers and developers will do their best. Your contribution will help us to start the production of the new displays and to accompany the new product versions with an appropriate packaging.
As this year's field study with 700 households demonstrated, the product pays itself off in less than a year. Hence your contribution does not only considerably reduce your households' carbon footprint, but it even helps you to save money.
With your contribution, Amphiro will be able to extend its portfolio and reach, to scale up the savings, and to develop novel ways for a more conscious usage of hot water and energy.
Please find our FAQs attached and in case of any further questions do not hesitate to contact us via Indiegogo or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you very much for your support!
Technology Review (print version 01/2014) via Heise
Articles in other languages
iPhone Club (Dutch)
G Forum (Turkish)
For more articles in printed newspapers and magazines, please visit our website.
Can I use amphiro a1 in any kind of shower?
The device can be installed in nearly every shower with a handheld shower head - shower fittings are internationally standardized (1/2- inch threads). Installing the device in a wall-mounted shower is not recommended. If your shower has multiple shower heads or water outlets, only the water that runs through the hose with the device is measured. A few showers still have a 3/8-inch thread. Adapters are available.
Can I install also the device elsewhere than in the shower to measure water volume and energy consumption?
No, the device is designed and configured for shower use only, we do not recommend using it for other systems and purposes.
What is the default setting for the units for temperature and water volume?
The international default setting will be temperature in degrees Celsius and volume in liters. Customers with a shipping address in the United States will by default receive a version with temperature in Fahrenheit and volume in gallons. If you wish to have a different setting, please let us know.
What is the purpose of amphiro a1 and why should I use the device?
Central Europe and some other parts of the world may have abundant water resources; yet most people are not aware of how much energy is necessary for water heating. 16% of a household’s energy budget are for water heating – the vast majority of it is used in the shower and bathtub. For comparison, cooking and lighting each account for approximately 5 % of a home’s energy use. With amphiro a1, you keep track of your energy and water consumption in the shower. That way, you can pursue energy efficiency goals, or simply get a sense for your personal resource utilization in the shower. The information provided enables you to consciously use thermal energy and motivates sustainable use of precious resources. With amphiro a1, households typically reduce their annual consumption by 440 kWh thermal energy and 8’500 liters (2250 gallons) of drinking water – this equals 23 % of their baseline consumption.
How does amphiro a1 affect the energy and water consumption?
As numerous studies show, consumption or performance displays create and strengthen awareness for the impact of one’s behavior and motivate a more conscious and reasonable use of resources. That way, users learn to better assess and control the impact of their personal actions on the environment. In two independent studies with amphiro devices, the participating households reduced their shower consumption by 23 % on average.
Which water and energy consumption figures are displayed?
The device displays the water and energy consumption for every individual shower taken in real time, as well as current shower temperature and energy efficiency class. Even if you interrupt your shower for a short time, e.g. for soaping or shaving, the device will continue counting your consumption after the interruption. Only after an interruption of three minutes or more, the device will switch off and restart from zero.
Which factors influence the energy consumption in the shower? How can I reduce my consumption?
Your energy consumption in the shower largely depends on the amount of water you use and on its temperature: the warmer the water, the more energy is necessary to heat it; and the more water you use (volume-wise), the more energy you use. The amount of water used can be influenced by two factors: the duration of the shower and the flow rate. The longer you take a (warm) shower and the more water runs through your shower head per minute, the more water and energy is being used. Apart from taking shorter showers, installing a low-flow shower head is a good possibility to reduce your water and energy consumption.
Does the device reduce the flow rate or water pressure (gallons/minute)?
No, the device does not reduce the flow rate on purpose. Instead, amphiro a1 empowers users to actively monitor and control their hot water consumption. For modern shower heads however, the pressure change will barely be noticeable. A slightly reduced flow rate might potentially be observed with high-flow shower heads.
Who produces amphiro a1?
The devices were developed by Amphiro AG, a spin-off company of ETH Zurich and of the University of St. Gallen. Studies to evaluate its performance are carried out by researchers of ETH Zurich and of the University of Lausanne. The project is supported by the Swiss Federal Office of Energy. The devices are produced in Austria, European Union.
Shower separation and autonomous switch-off
How can the device operate without electricity and without batteries? And why does the display switch off after a few minutes?
The device does not contain batteries, it harvests the energy for its operation from the running water. The water flow spins a small turbine inside the device. As soon as water runs through the device, it switches on and a small capacitor is charged. The capacitor can supply the display with energy for a few minutes after the end of the shower. As soon as this energy has been depleted (or at latest after three minutes), the device switches off.
Does the device switch off when I turn off the water while soaping?
No. The water extraction after the interruption is considered as the continuation of the shower and is added to the consumption before the interruption. Only when the device has been switched off after an interruption of 3 minutes or more, the new water extraction is considered as a separate shower and the device will start counting from zero.
I do not only extract water through the hose that contains the amphiro device, but also through the bathtub faucet or additional faucets/ showerheads. Does the device account for the overall consumption of all outlets?
amphiro a1 only takes into account the water volume that runs through the shower hose on which it is installed. The consumption through other water outlets is not taken into account.
How are the energy efficiency classes defined?
The energy efficiency classes indicate typical energy consumption levels for showering. “A” stands for a low energy consumption, while the highest level G designates a very high energy use for an individual shower.
What is a kWh?
It stands for kilowatt-hour. One kilowatt-hour is the amount of energy that is necessary to operate one 1000W-device for one hour. For instance, with 1 kWh, one can operate 67 CFLs (Compact Fluorescent Lamps) for one hour, a single CFL for 67 hours, or an average TV (183 W) for 5.5 hours.
Why do I sometimes even end up in a better energy efficiency class although I used the same amount of water or even more than in another shower?
The energy efficiency class is calculated based on the temperature and on the amount of water consumed. For instance, if you shower at 30°C, you are still in class B- with a consumption of 42 liters. By contrast, when showering at 37°C, 42 liters would already fall into class C.
How accurate is the device?
The device has a measurement accuracy of +/- 10% at a flow rate of 15 liters per minute.
How precise are the energy consumption values?
The energy consumption (in kWh) is only a proxy for the heat energy contained in the water consumed. It does not account for boiler / furnace efficiency or transportation losses. The indicated value shows the defined minimum energy consumption at 100 % heater efficiency. Depending on the type and age of your individual water heating system, the actual value can be up to 50 % higher than indicated by the device. The energy consumption on the device is calculated based on the water volume and the water temperature (water volume times temperature difference to the cold water reference value times heat capacity). The water temperature is constantly measured during the operation of the device; regional reference values were used for the calculation of the cold water reference value.
What does the polar bear stand for?
The polar bear animation reminds of the long-term effects of CO2 emissions that are generated due to our energy consumption. The animation is meant in a figurative/ metaphorical sense: with high energy consumption, we increasingly contribute to atmospheric CO2 emissions and to climate change, thus endangering the future habitat of humans and animals. Households considerably and increasingly contribute to global CO2 emissions. On the display, the ice floe shrinks as the energy efficiency classes progress. When class F+ is reached, the bear and the ice floe disappear completely.
Other operation-related questions
I have small kids. Can I install the device in my shower?
Generally, the use of amphiro a1 is hazard-free. The device cannot be open by hand. Nevertheless, in particular before and during the installation, you should ensure that children don't swallow or inhale small parts (protection cap, sealing ring, sieve). After the installation you should continue to exercise the usual measures of precaution. Besides, please ensure that children don't unscrew the device, as this increases the risk for them to swallow, inhale or lose small parts of the device.
Can persons with a cardiac pacemaker use the device?
The device contains a small permanent magnet, similar to headphones or showerheads with LEDs, both of which don’t contain warning notices. Nevertheless, as a precaution measure, we recommend persons with a cardiac pacemaker to refrain from using the device or to confer with their physician.
In case the funding goal is not achieved we will do our best to deliver the promised perks including the two new device variants. In case we will not get supported by any other donators and we cannot produce amphiro a1 arctic and amphiro a1 control, all funders will be compensated with the original amphiro a1.