Low Flow Shower Heads & High Efficiency Faucets PDF Print

Restricting the use of water in the home is greatly affected by water flow through showers and faucets.  Of all water appliances, the highest usage of water in the home is showers. Showers amount to approximately 35% of the water used in a home (Two Flush).

The double benefit in reducing water usage for the shower is that we save on water as well as the energy to heat the water.  As much as 73% of the water used in a shower is hot water.  A low flow shower head is an inexpensive and easy way to dramatically reduce your water usage.  They are easy to install and cost between $10 and $50.  A low flow shower head can reduce water usage by as much as 50%.  A standard shower head uses between 5 and 8 gallons per minute (gpm).  For a shower lasting 5 minutes, your total water usage can be as high as 40 gallons (Flex your Power).  A low flow shower head of 2.5 gpm or less can reduce water usage by as much as 27.5 gallons for that same shower.

Old designs for low flow shower heads simply blocked the flow of water.  The problem with this system is that it takes the force out of the shower and can greatly reduce the satisfaction of the entire experience.  Improvements have been made to low flow shower heads over the years by using two methods (Eartheasy):

1.   The first method is aerating.  Air is mixed with the water stream so that it maintains a steady pressure during the shower and a full spray.  The only down side to this method is that the air mixing with the water can cause it to cool down as it falls towards the floor of the shower.

2.   The second method is the non-aerating.  Air is not added in this system and therefore it maintains its temperature well.  The water is forced through special openings that control droplet size.  The water flow pulses through this system and gives more of a massaging effect.  This system enables it to deliver a strong spray.

Since the water volume through these low flow heads is greatly reduced, there can be more instance of scalding when a toilet is flushed.  If you have problems with scalding in your current shower, you can have a plumber install an anti-scald valve to prevent the problem.  Another method of reducing scalding is to lower the temperature on your water heater to about 120 degrees.  If you have a newer home with piping at least ¾” in size or thermostatic mixing valves, anti-scald valves or pressure-balancing valves, then you shouldn’t have any issue with scalding (Home Tips).

Combining low flow shower heads with high efficiency faucet aerators will improve your water savings even more.  Standard faucet aerators use between 4 and 7 gpm compared to high efficiency aerators that use between 1 and 2.75 gpm.  High efficiency aerators are easy to install and can cost as little as $5 each.  A typical 15 minute session of washing dishes in the sink can consume as much as 105 gallons of water with a standard aerator.  Using a high efficiency aerator of 2 gpm can reduce the consumption in this same period by as much as 75 gallons.

Total water savings for an average family over the course of a year with low flow shower heads and high efficiency aerators is approximately 7,800 gallons per year (Flex your Power).  Try these simple methods of water reduction for your showers and faucets and give me some feedback on your results.

Water Usage Infographic



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