A local professor is determined to help people cut back on water use and his study suggests instant feedback is a highly effective tool for conservation.
Results from a month-long study suggest Cal State San Marcos professor, Dr. P. Wesley Schultz, was correct when he theorized that giving water customers quick feedback on their water use helps them to conserve more, the North County Times reported. Schultz teaches psychology at the university and teamed with the Olivenhain Water District to conduct the pilot program that ended Sept. 10.
For the study Schultz chose 25 Carlsbad households and gave them special devices and software that let them check their water use up to 14 times a day on their home computers. Participants were able to see how showers, laundry and other day-to-day activities affected their water use. Favorable comparisons earned smiley faces, while unfavorable comparisons elicited frowning faces. Around 100 other households did not get the virtual-time feedback but served as a control group for comparison.
Results released by the water district show that those who got the feedback used 20 percent less water compared with the same period the year before, according to the paper. The control group reduced its water use by only 11 percent compared with the previous year.
Right now this access isn't avaliable to all water customers. Schultz is scheduled to present his findings to the district's board at its Oct. 14 meeting.