I can’t believe that December is almost over! I just realized that it’s been a month since I wrote my last blog…time flies! Well, as you know, it’s winter time, which means it is waste water averaging (WWA) time for the water utility. I talked about WWA during my article relating to toilets. To keep with the bathroom theme, I am moving onto showers–showerheads specifically.
Showers are similar to toilets, in that they are used daily and account for about 17% of our daily indoor water use. Also, like toilets, they are regulated by national and state codes regarding how much water they can use; for showers, it’s rated as gallons of water per minute (gpm), versus toilets, which is gallons per flush (gpf). Currently, the EPA requires that any and all showerheads sold must use no more than 2.5 gpm. This has been the law since 2010 and there are plenty of showerheads on the market that use less than this.
I know, low-flow showerheads just don’t sound appealing. I always think of that old Seinfeld episode where low-flow showerheads are being introduced in Jerry’s apartment building and Kramer is purchasing black-market, elephant washing showerheads that knocks him out of the shower and starts doing everything in there-food preparation, washing dishes…it makes me laugh! And cringe.
The thing is, showerheads aren’t really “low-flow,” as in low-pressure. Although they use less water, they simply use the same water pressure that your house currently has; they don’t change the water pressure. Us water nerds prefer to call the fixtures “efficient” showerheads, or “water-conserving” showerheads. Sounds much better than “low-flow”!
I’ll admit, I’ve had my doubts too. The heads I’ve installed at my house use 1.50 gpm, and honestly, I was skeptical about them and put off installing them for a while. Finally, for the sake of research and water efficiency, I installed them and was pleasantly surprised–they worked great and have plenty of pressure and water! And, if you are considering a bathroom remodel that includes multiple showerheads in the same shower, just remember that that doubles or triples the amount of water that is being used per minute, while multiple heads are in use (2.5 x number of heads = total gpm).
If your home is new, you probably already have efficient fixtures. You can check for yourself just by reading the fine print on the showerhead. See the middle picture. Where the red arrow is pointing is where showerheads typically have printed what their gpm is. The one shown says 1.75 gpm max–meaning the most it’s going to emit is 1.75 gallons per minute.
So, this winter while you are fixing leaks, replacing toilets, and otherwise making your home water efficient to get the lowest WWA possible, think about replacing your showerheads too. The City is giving away free 1.75 gpm showerheads at the water billing office, while supplies last, or purchase a model of your choosing at any store that sells showerheads or plumbing fixtures. Don’t forget to look for the WaterSense label, those have been tested and approved as good quality, water saving devices.
Find out more about efficient showerheads at EPA’s WaterSense site.