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How Does a Low-Flow Showerhead Work?

How Does a Low-Flow Showerhead Work?

It's easy to go without considering how much water you use in a single day, at least until the water bill is due. But what you may not realize is that you could be saving a large sum of money by changing your water habits. The average American uses more than 80 gallons of water every day for drinking, cooking and cleaning. A large portion of this is also used in the shower. And delivering hot water for bathing is even more resource-intensive - it's estimated that water heating accounts for 18 percent of the typical family's total utility bill.

Old habits die hard, but it's possible to cut down on water use with certain simple plumbing part replacements as well. One of the easiest ways to do this is with a low-flow showerhead. These showerheads are specially designed to use less water automatically, and typically provide the same amount of pressure and comfort you would expect from any shower.

Buyer's guide

When shopping for a low-flow showerhead, keep in mind the two most common types:

  • Aerating showerheads mix the water stream with air to increase density. This creates a misty spray that still has plenty of pressure to clean your body and it covers a wide area.
  • Laminar-flow showerheads separate the water into individual streams. This is ideal for high-humidity environments, as it will create less steam and moisture than aerating fixtures.

Before choosing a low-flow showerhead, check the flow rate on the package. It should denote both the volume (gallons per minute) and pressure output (pounds per square inch) of the device. New government rules require all showerheads to deliver no more than 2.5 gallons per minute at 80 pounds per square inch. Therefore, a low-flow showerhead should have a flow rate lower than that level.

Homeowners should also be aware that most showerheads made before 1992 had flow rates more than twice the current maximum. If these are still in use, they could be costing you a fortune in utility expenses every year. If you think your showerheads are out of date, consider upgrading to a modern low-flow model. Like any other showerhead, some are plain looking while others are quite stylish and attractive.

Once you've chosen the right low-flow showerhead, contact your local plumbing professional for installation and service.