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Low-Flow Showerheads

 

Technology Snapshot & Benefits:

Showers account for 16-25% of the total water use in a typical home.  One easy way to reduce this number and minimize your home's total water usage is to install a low-flow showerhead on each of your showers.  The current standard for low-flow models is 2.5 gpm (compared to the 5.5 gpm of standard models, especially those manufactured before 1992).  Some models are available with flow-rates as low as 1.6 gpm, using about 1/4 the amount of water of standard models.  This means that low-flow showerheads can save you 20 to 30 gallons of water for every ten minute shower you take. Low-flow models are inexpensive, easy to install and can have substantial ramifications for your home's annual water use. 

 

In addition to installing a low-flow showerhead, consider taking shorter showers and turning off the water while shampooing or shaving to help save more water. 

 

Estimated Cost Savings:

Typically, low-flow showerheads cost between $10 and $20 and can be purchased from your local hardware store.  Despite this initial expense, low-flow models can reduce the amount of water used in the shower by 25-50%, saving families hundreds of dollars every year.  EPA's WaterSense program reports installing a low-flow showerhead can save families more than 2300 gallons of water a year (EPA).

 

Issues:

Many consumers are concerned with their showers becoming "weak" after installing a low-flow showerhead.  However, there are many different models available with various settings that can allow control over the strength of the water flow, whether it is strong and pulsing or soft and misty.  If you prefer stronger water flow, opt for a laminar-flow showerhead as it creates individual streams instead the mist that aerating models produce.

 

Regional Issues:

Some cities and water companies offer low-flow showerheads free of cost as a part of city-wide water use reduction programs.  Check with your local utilities company and city offices to find out if such a program exists in your area.

 

Installation (Getting It Done):

Low-flow showerheads can easily be replaced yourself or with the a little help from your local plumber.  When purchasing a new showerhead, make sure its specifications (threaded or non-threaded, size, etc.) match your current one. Consider removing the old one and taking it with you to your local hardware store to ensure you get a proper match.  Look for models that have earned the EPA's Water Sense label to ensure the highest quality and greatest efficiency.  Once you purchase the showerhead, simply take it back home and follow the manufacturer's instructions for install.  Usually this just requires removing the old head and screwing in the new one.  Make sure there is a tight seal to prevent leakage.  Consider purchasing a rubber washer to slip between the showerhead and pipes to make sure it is a tight fit.  For more installation tips and a step-by-step guide, check out the video below from Sierra Club Green Homes.

 

Videos on This Topic:

 

Low-Flow Showerheads (2:55) - Sierra Club Green Homes - As water conservation is a rising concern for homeowners, it is important to reduce water use wherever possible.  One great, inexpensive way to do this is by installing low-flow showerheads that can save around 8000 gallons a year.  In this video, find out more about how much this $10 product can save you and get a step-by-step guide to easy installation.

 

More Information on This Topic:

 

EPA's WaterSense Label - Showerheads

 

U.S. Department of Energy - Energy Savers - Water Heating

 

American Waterworks Association - Water Use Statistics

 

 

 


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