According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), showering sucks up about 17% of the water used in an average residential indoor property, contributing to 1.2 trillion gallons of water used annually in the United States alone.
So you’re ready for an eco-friendlier solution, but how much water does a low-flow shower head – like those with a WaterSense seal – save?
This guide will elaborate on what WaterSense shower heads are, how much they can save you, and how to install one, so keep reading!
How Much Do You Save with a Low-Flow Showerhead?
You could reduce your household water usage by 2,700 gallons a year with a WaterSense or similar low-flow showerhead. You can also reduce your electricity usage by over 330 kilowatt-hours!
What Is a WaterSense Showerhead?
If you want greener solutions for the home, you usually look for Energy Star products, right? In the case of showerheads, the label you want is WaterSense.
WaterSense-labeled heads pass the EPA’s strict criteria for using less water. A WaterSense showerhead will produce 2.0 gallons per minute (gpm) or less, whereas the average showerhead uses at least 2.5 gpm and often more.
For a showerhead to meet the EPA’s standards for WaterSense labeling, it must also pass other performance standards and be tested by a third party before earning the certification.
According to this EPA page, some traits of a WaterSense showerhead include the following:
- Performing as well or better than their less efficient counterparts
- 20% higher water efficiency than average products in that category
- Realizing water savings on a national level
- Providing measurable water savings results
- Achieving water efficiency through several technology options
The EPA did not work alone to determine the appropriate spray intensity and water coverage that a WaterSense low-flow showerhead should possess. Instead, the organization partnered with consumers and stakeholders.
Low-flow showerheads have enough pressure compensation to reduce water flow even if the water pressure changes per average household level. The spray coverage should be just enough that it’s neither overly wide nor overly narrow, and the spray force or pressure should pass consumer standards for satisfaction.
By the way, the WaterSense label doesn’t only apply to showerheads but all sorts of plumbing products for the home such as faucets and toilets.
How Much Can You Save with a Low-Flow Showerhead?
As we made pretty clear in the intro, the average showerhead sucks up quite a lot of water, about 40 gallons per day for a standard household. In a week, your home will have used up 280 gallons, and up to 1,200 gallons in a month.
Your household uses 14,400 gallons of water annually, and that’s only from showering! It’s not exactly like you can stop showering, which is why low-flow showerheads are the next best thing.
The EPA states that a standard household can reduce its shower-related water usage by 2,700 gallons yearly with a WaterSense low-flow showerhead. So with one installed, your home would only use 11,700 gallons of water.
How much money does that translate to?
The EPA states that you pay $0.00295 a gallon or three cents for 10 gallons of water used. The average water bill costs about $72.93 a month, says moving resource Moving.com, which is $875.16 yearly. Your water bill will plummet once you switch to a WaterSense or other low-flow shower head.
In the case of WaterSense showerheads specifically, you can save money in additional ways. An outdated shower head can put more strain on your water heater. Not so with a low-flow showerhead, which is designed in every way to perform optimally.
Your household can save at least 330 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year but possibly more. The EPA says that just the 330 kWh of electricity saved could generate power to your home for up to 11 days!
More Benefits of Low-Flow Showerheads
If the thought of saving money, water, and electricity somehow doesn’t entice you enough, there are yet more advantages to upgrading your showerhead. Let’s take a look.
Reduced Carbon Dioxide Emissions
You’ll recall that you’re reducing the strain on your water heater each time you or a member of your household take a shower with a low-flow showerhead versus a traditional one.
This, in turn, lessens how much electricity your home has to produce to take a shower. Not only is that advantageous in saving you cash on your yearly energy bills, but your home is also producing less carbon dioxide.
Less Water Waste
By cutting down on how many gallons of water you use per minute, you’ll contribute less to the country’s growing problem with water waste.
This EPA stat sheet says that the average American family wastes around 180 gallons of water per week, which is 9,400 gallons a year! That’s just from household leaks.
With that water, you could have done 300 loads of laundry.
If you’re using 40 gallons of water a day for showering like other households in the country are, that’s 1.2 trillion gallons in the US in a year alone. New Jersey and New York could use just that water to meet their water needs for the entire year, says the EPA.
Any chance you have to reduce water waste is an opportunity you should take, and a WaterSense showerhead is a good start. After seeing how well it works, you might decide to upgrade the rest of your fixtures to WaterSense as well!
While this depends on the type of low-flow shower head you select, many carry advanced adjustment capabilities for a more comfortable showering experience.
Some of the features you might be able to enjoy include:
- Water volume – if you want to use the average water volume of your low-flow showerhead, that’s fine, but for those days when you need more or less, you might also have the capacity to set the water flow appropriately. For example, you can reduce the water volume for a quick morning shower, whereas if you’re incredibly sweaty or dirty (or both!), you might increase the water volume.
- Temperature control – waiting outside the shower for the water to heat up is a terrible inconvenience. Still, it’s a reality that most American families face every morning or evening when they shower. A low-flow showerhead might include temperature control so that if you want a hotter shower sooner, you can have it. You could also gradually taper the water to cool as you shower.
- Aeration – aeration introduces air into your showerhead, which controls even more efficiently how much water you use when showering. You can adjust the amount of aeration for more air and less pressure or less air and more pressure.
- Stream control – a low-flow showerhead nozzle might allow you to control the stream settings, choosing between stream, mist, or pulse features.
- Pause – is your phone ringing in the middle of your shower, or do the kids need something right now? A low-flow showerhead might be able to pause so you can quickly step out and then step right back in. The water temperature won’t change in the interim, which is excellent!
- A timer – it’s hard to tell the time in the shower unless you have a waterproof case on your phone. A low-flow showerhead might include a timer so that you won’t overstay your welcome if you want to shower for only 10 minutes.
How to Install a Low-Flow Showerhead
You’re convinced! You want to switch your household to low-flow shower heads moving forward. The good news is that installing a low-flow shower head isn’t different than installing any other one.
Here are the steps to follow:
Step 1 – Remove Your Current Showerhead
Before you can start installing a new shower head, the current shower head needs to come down. You’ll need either channel-lock pliers or an adjustable wrench for this part of the job.
Unscrew the head, moving swiftly and steadily. This procedure will preserve the original showerhead’s threading in case you ever need to use it again.
Once the showerhead is unscrewed, it should come right off.
Step 2 – Cover the Shower Fixture Pipe
Here’s a little trick that will make a big difference regarding how much water you can save with your new showerhead.
Apply Teflon tape over the shower fixture pipe’s threads to make an even more airtight and watertight seal.
Step 3 – Install the Low-Flow Shower Head
Most low-flow showerheads should screw on simply by you rotating them into place. A standard wrench should do the trick if you need to use tools.
Be careful not to tighten the head to such a degree that you crack it or strip the threading.
Step 4 – Test the Water Flow
Well, that was easy, right? However, before you call it a job well done, run the shower for a minute.
Is the water flow coming out as projected according to your selected settings? Do you notice any water leaks?
If so, turn the shower off, tighten the head, and try again.
A low-flow showerhead such as those from WaterSense uses less water than your average model and can save you on both water and electricity bills. You’ll also produce less water waste, emit less carbon dioxide, and make your home more environmentally friendly!