All About Low-Flow Showerheads

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“Low-flow” doesn’t exactly sound appealing, but these water efficient showerheads still provide a powerful flow of water while conserving the precious resource.  Installation is easy and will significantly reduce your home water consumption (and water bills) and your energy cost of heating the water.  

Today’s standard showerhead uses 2.5 gallons per minute, but older models can use up to 6 gallons of water per minute!  Now, you can find low-flow varieties that use only 1 gpm.  A soon-to-be-available model from Aqua Helix uses only 1/2 gpm.  Many types claim to reduce or eliminate scale (mineral build-up) in the showerhead nozzle as well.  Two popular types of low-flow showerheads are aerating and non-aerating.

Aerating mixes air into the water stream. This maintains steady pressure so the flow has an even, full shower spray. Because air is mixed in with the water, the water temperature can cool down a bit towards the floor of the shower.

Non-aerating does not mix air into the water stream. This maintains temperature well and delivers a strong spray. The water flow pulses with non-aerating shower heads, giving more of a massaging-showerhead effect.

Vacuum technology is another option (available through Bricor) in which water enters a “booster” valve where it is aerated and compacted under pressure.  According to the company, “Due to the intense force of the vacuum chamber, the aerated water ‘explodes’ as it exits the shower head, creating a powerful shower stream at a very low flow rate (1.25 gallons per minute or less).”

Well known brands such as Delta, Kohler, Hansgrohe, American Standard, and others offer many low-flow showerhead options.

Gaiam sells a made-in-the USA, solid brass showerhead that uses 2.25 gpm at its maximum flow, but 1.2 to 1.4 gpm is typical for the average user.

Low-flow shower heads can be found in several styles and finishes, and are typically priced starting from only $10.  The cost depends on features such as flow-adjusting dials and designer styling. Hand-held models are more expensive than fixed models.

One sure-fire way to conserve water, and related energy, is to take shorter showers.  Another method is to add a flow control valve to your existing shower arm (available through Watermiser).  An additional tip is to turn down your water heater to 120 degrees F.

Tag(s): Energy, Greening the Home, Kitchens And Baths, Money Saving, Water


5 Responses to “All About Low-Flow Showerheads”

  1. Steve on January 7th, 2009 3:28 pm

    Hello Joyce!
    Thanks for mentioning my nozzle in your article here.
    There’s a small error though. The AquaHelix 1/2 gpm nozzle is available now … and has been since 1996. It’s the only one I make.
    Again thanks for including me in your article!

  2. Joyce Benson on January 8th, 2009 10:08 am

    Sorry about that. I think I was looking at an outdated link for the AquaHelix .5 gpm showerhead.

  3. andy on July 10th, 2009 1:48 pm

    This is the best one ive tried so far

  4. Joyce Benson on July 14th, 2009 8:23 pm

    Andy, that link doesn’t work. Would you like to re-post it?

  5. Betty on May 23rd, 2011 3:57 pm

    try Airjet showerhead. it’s a best aerating showerhead!

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