It's another hot summer, and California is officially in a drought, according to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. A Los Angeles company has come out with a water-saving solution.
The doodad, called Cyber-Rain XCI, attaches to sprinkler systems and wirelessly looks up online weather forecasts to determine how much to water the lawn. Hot, humid days will see Cyber-Rain doling out more water. Cool, cloudy days would result in less watering. And, of course, the gadget lays off the drink entirely on rainy days. Because it's a connected device, you can control the schedule and monitor the water use on a computer.
About 70 percent of household water consumption comes from outdoor watering, according to the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. That includes water used in pools, power-hosing driveways and washing cars, as well as to keep the garden green.
One study by the Irvine Ranch Water District in Orange County found that weather-based irrigation gadgets saved households more than 40 gallons of water a day, skimming roughly 10 percent off their total water use, according to Lynn Lipinski, spokeswoman for the MWD.
Cyber-Rain sells the gadget for about $350.
Price too much to swallow? Water districts around the country offer rebates on qualifying products. The MWD, which covers most of Los Angeles, gives an $80 rebate to homeowners who buy Cyber-Rain or one of a dozen other sprinkler controllers that qualify, if the landscape being watered is less than an acre. For people who have more than an acre, the district rebates $630 per acre. The district has put up a Web site where consumers can look up rebate information, apply for rebates and learn how to conserve water.