This 1.6-gpm showerhead produces larger water droplets to make the shower water feel warmer when it reaches your skin.
Source: Delta Faucet
Question: My energy bills and water bills are increasing, so I plan to install low-flow showerheads. I tried them before, but my family didn’t like them. How do I pick a good one?
Answer: Bathing uses a lot of water each month for most families, and heating that water drives energy costs up. Low-flow showerheads can help cut down on both.
For many years, federal energy-efficiency standards have limited all showerheads sold in the United States to a maximum water-flow rate of 2.5 gallons per minute (gpm) at a water pressure of 80 pounds per square inch. Some older showerheads may use as much as 5 gpm without even providing an adequate, forceful water flow.
Many new low-flow showerheads provide good water flow using even less than 2.5 gpm. Having tested more than a dozen low-flow showerheads this year alone, I found significant differences in showerhead sprays for products with identical flow rates. The most efficient ones are as low as 1.5 gpm, and the savings in water and energy use can pay back their cost in just a few months.
Your water savings will be affected directly by the showerhead’s gpm rating. Energy savings is determined by both the gpm rating and how much hot water has to be mixed with cold water for a comfortable shower.
Shower spray pattern and force are matters of personal preference. But the type of spray pattern has an effect on how warm the water feels on your skin. Water from showerheads that create larger droplets feels warmer because large droplets cool down less before they reach your body.
Some needle-type, low-flow showerheads create tiny water droplets. When these lose heat as they move through the air, people tend to move the faucet handle to a hotter setting and may end up using more hot water—and more electricity—than before. Some showerheads also add air to the spray for more force, but this might also cool the water spray.
It’s easy to distinguish heads with a narrow needle-spray design—they are usually small. For a fuller spray, look for ones with many holes across a larger face. On showerheads with adjustable patterns, not all the holes are used simultaneously, so they may actually create a needle spray if you desire that at times.
A handheld, adjustable showerhead with multiple spray settings is very effective. Water flow can be directed where you want it, which can save water.
Two inexpensive add-on devices can also help reduce water use on any showerhead. One is a tiny push/pull trickle valve (also called a lathering valve) that’s mounted between the shower arm and the showerhead. When you don’t need water, push the button to slow the water to a trickle without having to readjust the temperature at the faucet each time.
Another water saver is a Lady Bug valve by ShowerStart (also known as Evolve Showerheads). People often turn on the hot water and walk away while waiting for it to reach the shower, wasting gallons of hot water down the drain before they return. With the Lady Bug, when the water temperature at the showerhead reaches 95 degrees, the flow is automatically slowed to a trickle, so very little hot water goes down the drain. When you’re ready to get into the shower, pull the string on the handle, and the warm shower starts flowing at full force.
These companies offer showerheads and systems:
Delta, (800) 345-3358
Moen, (800) 289-6636
Price Pfister, (800) 732-8238
ShowerStart, (480) 496-2294
Speakman, (800) 537-2107
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