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Smart Home Technology Can Solve The Problems Homeowners Don’t Even Know They Have

Flo December 31, 2019

Being a homeowner is a huge accomplishment, but it also comes with a fair amount of work, worry, and responsibility. “Will my home be safe while I’m on vacation? Will this cold weather freeze my pipes? What if my roof leaks again? That bill was how much this month?!” Of course, there will always be events out of our control as with anything in life, but as technology has advanced, homeowners now have access to tools to protect their homes even in the worst-case scenarios. One such scenario homeowners could be better prepared for is water damage, which is actually 5x more likely to occur than a house fire and 6x more likely than a burglary. At Flo, our mission is to prevent loss, one drip at a time; that means to empower homeowners to proactively monitor and protect their homes from water damage and loss, eliminating at least one worry and significant costs for them. But to best help them, we need to understand them; we need to have a better grasp on what they know or believe about their own plumbing systems and water use, and about water damage itself.

To do so, we partnered with Fluent to conduct consumer research diving deeper into everything from homeowners’ general home plumbing knowledge, awareness and use of smart home technologies, to concerns about water conservation. Our research aims to illuminate what homeowners know and don’t know – which can inadvertently contribute to water damage and waste at the individual and collective levels – so we can help them become better informed about (and better protected from) their own homes’ water. In this post, we’ll dive into the most significant findings from our study and set the record straight on some of homeowners’ most commonly shared beliefs and behaviors around their home plumbing system.

But first, here are some important facts to know:

  • Water damage incidents inU.S. homes cost over $9 billion annually and are the leading cause of preventable homeowner insurance claims each year.
  • The average water damage incident in US homes costs around $10,000.
  • Every day, an average of 27 gallons of water are lost due to leaks in a typical home, adding up to one trillion gallons of water wasted across the country every single year.
  • Within the next ten years, 40 out of 50 states expect water shortages.
  • By 2025, over 2.8 billion people in 48 countries will face water stress or scarcity conditions, and this number will grow to 7 billion people by 2050.
  • But how can we conserve? Do you know how much water you use daily? What about how many gallons it takes to brush your teeth, take a shower, or wash the dishes? The amount of water involved in these simple tasks adds up. In this study, we learned that most people do not understand how much water they use in their homes, how water leaks can lead to higher water bills, or the potential and average costs of water damage.

    The truth is, a high water bill may have little to do with an individual’s consumption and more to do with what lies beneath the surface. On average, 13% of a home’s total water is lost each year due to leaks, so we weren’t surprised to learn that of homeowners who reported lower water bills this year, nearly a quarter attribute the decrease to fixing a leak. Small drips in the plumbing system can equate to more than 100,000 gallons per year of water released behind walls, in ceilings, or underneath slabs. This series of dripping can lead to substantial problems that often take time to become visible to a homeowner, usually when the damage is already extensive like mold growing behind walls. Use of the right smart home technology is one way homeowners can become more informed about their plumbing and water consumption so that in the event of a leak, they can be alerted and take action before a catastrophe or excessive waste occurs.

    Do homeowners take the threat of water damage seriously enough?
    Our research found that while people generally know that water damage is possible, they do not feel a sense of urgency to take steps to proactively avoid it. For example, the study identified that only one-third of homeowners hire a plumber for routine home maintenance, and confirmed what we already knew: that leaky pipes are not rare across homeowners; one in four have experienced a leaky water pipe in their current homes, 13% in the last year alone. Water damage seems to be one of those things we think about only once it happens and, at that point, the next step is treatment. Although three-quarters of homeowners say they believe that minimizing water damage due to leaks is highly important, only 4% own a smart device that can prevent it. Preventive measures are taken for fire and theft, but when it comes to plumbing and water damage, most of us wait for an emergency to occur (65%).

    Once the damage is done, homeowners can engage their insurance companies, but filing a claim can be a tedious and taxing process, and oftentimes the deductible they have to meet is expensive. Perhaps this is why we found that most homeowners who experienced water damage due to a leak did not file a claim with their insurance company (61%). That’s why we introduced FloProtect for our customers, a guarantee that we will cover their deductible in-full in the event of water damage with a Flo device installed. Many insurance companies also provide incentives for having preventative maintenance tools in place, such as an incentivized purchase or premium discount towards the product. The results of our study indicate that 15% of homeowners whose insurance provider does not already offer financial incentives for installing an automatic water shut off and leak detection device like Flo by Moen’s Smart Water Shutoff would be willing to switch to a provider that does. Homeowners should contact their insurance companies to learn what options and incentives they have for enhancing their current plumbing system to tackle whole-home water-related issues and to ultimately reduce the overall burden of water-related damages.

    Which generation of homeowner is more responsible: Millennials or Boomers?
    Millennials may talk the talk, but do they walk the walk? Even though smart home protection against water damage and leaks is the least purchased and known about type of smart home device, Millennials are catching on quickly, with 13% already owning one compared to 2% of Boomers. Millennials may be the least likely generation to know where their main water shutoff is, but they are 6x more likely than Boomers to own one of these smart home devices. This is not to say the Boomers do not take steps to prevent water damage in their homes. They’re generally more likely to take preventative actions against damage from leaky pipes such as installing shut-off valves at individual appliances, regularly checking for signs of leaks, and removing hoses from outdoor spigots in the winter. It’s evident that Millenials and Boomers both take initiative when it comes to equipping their homes with water damage protection, but Millennials are letting the technology do the hard work.

    The smart home technology homeowners don’t know exists, but could solve all their problems
    The Flo by Moen Smart Water Shutoff is a comprehensive water monitoring and leak detection device that proactively detects leaks as small as a drop per minute and alerts homeowners through their smartphones. The Smart Water Shutoff is installed on the main water supply line to the home so its three sensors are able to monitor whole-home water flow, pressure and temperature. These sensors, in combination with the Smart Water Shutoffs’ AI (FloSense) that differentiates normal vs. abnormal water use, are what enable the device to detect and protect the home from problems like leaks, burst pipes and more. After installing the Flo by Moen Smart Water Shutoff, about 50% of homeowners immediately discover a leak they didn’t know they had. Enabling homeowners to find and fix leaks quickly with its Smart Water Shutoff, Flo helps homeowners save money on their water bills, insurance premiums/deductibles (with FloProtect’s deductible reimbursement guarantee), any possible water damage-related claims, and most importantly, peace of mind that their home is safe.

    You can find the full research reports below – we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

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