A simple device fitted to a household shower that is leading the way in water and energy conservation was invented by West Aucklander Alan Currie out of sheer frustration.
The device a combination of a micro processor and special valves fitted to the bathroom shower can be programmed to limit showers to a specific time saving hundreds of dollars a year in power bills and water consumption.
With four teenagers in his Titirangi home some years ago, Alan Currie says their hot water usage was huge, particularly with one son who could empty the family’s standard 180 litre hot water cylinder in one go.
“The family bathroom was right behind our bedroom wall and I’d hear the shower going on late at night just as I was drifting off to sleep. After 10 minutes I’d bang on the wall, then 10 minutes later I’d get up and tell him to get out, then I’d turn the lights off and finally when the cylinder was nearly empty I’d resort to turning the water off by torchlight under the house,” he says.
A master builder Alan thought there had to be some way to restrict shower usage other than the latter drastic action of climbing under the house at night and set out to develop the product that is now called Showerguard.
After five years of research and development, the product is now manufactured by a Glendene engineering firm and patented in two countries Australia and New Zealand. Showerguard is mostly sold by word of mouth, off the website or through Alan’s bathroom renovation business www.jubileebathrooms.co.nz
“People who have installed it love it, especially those with teenagers, home stays, boarders or just large families where power and water usage is an issue,” he says. Potentially the market is huge, not just in New Zealand where rising power bills are hurting family households and water shortages are threatening blackouts, but in places like Australia where continuing droughts are a real threat to whole communities that already have water restrictions in place. “Hot water soaks up about 44% of your monthly power bill so a device like this can be a substantial saving. You have the choice on what setting you put it, so your household can have showers ranging from two minutes up to 20. Obviously some people can manage with shorter showers and others like to soak longer.”