One month with Rachio - Water usage underestimated?

Hi there

I have had Rachio Gen2 installed now since the end of July and i am seeing a huge discrepancy between what Rachio is reporting as usage and what my water company is saying. For the month of August, Rachio says 5,390 gallons whereas my water company says 29,000 gallons.

Now i am new to Irrigation systems and before moving here i lived in Scotland so …we never needed irrigation there!!

I am not at home just now but based on memory and my lot survey i reckon i have 25 rotor heads Rainbird 5004 with nozzle heads at 2.0 GPM flow rate

Looking at my zones i dont think they were configured correctly in terms of square footage at least. They were all set to the default 500 sq ft which is crazy wrong as i have 6 zones and 1 drip to cover a 10,000 sq ft yard. I have just this morning guesstimated and adjusted them but need to measure them out properly. Will this make a difference in water usage?

I am restricted to 3 days a week and i have been sticking to this for about 20min per zone. i recently reduced it down to 14 minutes but i am not even sure this is enough - or too much? - as i dont understand the Advanced settings a lot. Can someone have a look at my depletion, coefficient and efficiency settings.

Will a water flow sensor help? and if so which one is reccomended? I heard good things about the Toro ones.

We have had a bit of a problem with drainage on this lot as well as there are areas where the sun does not hit as much or the grading is not correct and as a result the ground is permanently soft and wet.

It is all Bermuda grass with a slope in the back yard and unfortunately we are at a cul-de-sac which means some of those rotor heads are inevitably hitting the road/sidewalk - no way around that sort of installing under sidewalk pipes which i am not prepared to do. It is clay soil and the sod is only 2 months old.

I cannot keep up the $250 per month water bill…what can i do to reduce it? Can someone have a look at my configuration from the Rachio team? Is 29,000 gallons a lot?

Thanks and apologies for so many questions!!!

You have many questions, but 29,000 gallons for a 10,000 square foot yard is not high. I have a 7,000 square foot yard and my July irrigation usage was about 44,000 gallons. Do you have an irrigation meter, or just one meter? Does your bill include sewer and trash pickup? If you are on one meter, decrease your indoor use by installing low flow faucets, toilets, etc. Limit your washing to full loads.
For outdoor, make sure your sprinkler head precipitation rates are correct. Look at manufacturer catalogs and create custom nozzles. If you have adjustable Rain Bird VAN nozzles, replace them with fixed arc nozzles or Rain Bird HE-VAN high efficiency nozzles. Do an inspection of your system. Do you have any broken heads, heads spraying the hardscape or runoff? I have never found Rachio’s water use graph to be correct, but look at the square footage of each zone. I know Toro has a flow sensor, but I believe it is only for commercial systems. Perhaps you are thinking of Hunter’ s Flow Clik. You can also consider Rachio’s fixed schedule. I use the flex schedule and definitely use less water than my previous Toro Evolution controller. You can always disable zones, too. Water rates are going up across the country to pay for necessary infrastructure upgrades.

Hi Robertokc

Thanks for your response

Yes you were right there were a few too many questions!!

I would try to cover your points below:

  • I have two meters - one for the house and one for the irrigation. The House consumption is actually fine. We use about 5-6000 gallons a month and that translates to about $60 a month with sewage included.

  • Bill includes sewer but only for the main house portion - the whole point of installing the irrigation meter was to avoid the sewage cost.

  • Indoor usage is fine for now - could it be better? probably but the kids are only 4 years old for now so water consumption is minimal as it is.

  • As for the sprinkler heads etc, my contractor installed the Rainbird 5004 rotor heads and i have a lot of trust in him. My yard has a funny shape and he has come out twice to finetune the heads as much as possible but due to the shape there is some water waste on the street. He has installed these full circle heads: with a precipitation rate of 0.2 to 1.01 inch per hour. They are adjustable as far as arc and circle is concerned. I may talk to my contractor and see if he thinks there will be significant savings if we just change the nozzles to something more efficient… We are at the end of the heavy watering season here in Charlotte so maybe something to look out for next year.

  • The system is brand new and it recently had an inspection with no issues. The contractor is actually on the list of Rachio installers and he has installed a number of their systems already.

  • I have adjusted the square footage already as it was way out. Hopefully that will make a difference in the water graph.

  • The flow sensor will not save me a penny but i think it will compliment my rachio very nicely. Rachio has a support article here:

  • I already use the Fixed Schedule on three days a week for 20 min per zone, 6 zones, therefore 2 hours of watering. I have reduced this down to 10 minutes per zone very recently in a water saving effort. Maybe next spring/summer will give the flex schedule a try and see how it goes.

  • i forgot to mention earlier that i have my own NetAtmo Weather station installed with a rain sensor so my rainfall data is as “local” as it can get.

Hope this helps…Thanks for your input.


You have put a lot of research into your irrigation system. Since you have been using the fixed schedule, how about trying the flex schedule? With the flex schedule you will find that Rachio skips some zones on your watering days. Three day a week watering gives you plenty of room. I have six zones. Depending on the weather, Rachio skips some zones because there is plenty of moisture in the root zone.