Hands Free Faucet Control
Inventor: Harmon Houghton
Day job: Owner, Clear Light Books
His all-time favorite invention: The ball bearing. “Every other invention owes its existence to it,” Houghton says.
How his invention could affect our lives: It reduces household water consumption, lowering utility bills and helping out the planet.
What the actual patent says: “Hands free system providing user control and regulation of water flow and temperature mix using ‘foot actuated’ devices.”
Meet the inventor: Maybe you’ve seen one of these gadgets in the hospital before: a seemingly normal sink operated by foot pedal. These are used in medical facilities all over the country to prevent the spread of germs.
Sanitation is just an added benefit, inventor Harmon Houghton says. The foot-powered gadget’s real use is water conservation. Houghton’s Ecofaucet, as it is known, can reduce household H2O consumption up to 90 percent.
“I couldn’t stand the thought of all that water going down the sink unused,” Houghton says. “That spurred me to think of how to control water without having to use my hands.”
Houghton, who runs a Southwest-centric publishing company in Santa Fe, estimates that 70 percent of water, used in the sink for such mundane activities as washing dishes or hands, goes down the drain unused.
The Ecofaucet helps reduce water waste because consumers can turn off the tap, say, between dishes or while lathering up their hands, using their foot. In this respect, the Ecofaucet is the same as other systems, but Houghton is quick to point out that his invention allows users to adjust the temperature as well. Move the pedal to the left to get hot water; move it to the right to get cold.
“We kind of advanced the state of the art in faucet control and design,” Houghton says.