Shower Yourself With Savings!
Showering is one of the leading ways we use water at home, accounting for nearly 17 percent of residential water use indoors.
Two factors influence how much water you use when showering:
- how much water comes out of your shower each minute (flow rate)
- how long you run the water while showering (duration).
According to WaterSense (think EnergyStar only for water), the average household could save more than 2,300 gallons per year by installing WaterSense showerheads. And since these water savings will reduce demands on water heaters, households will also save energy.
WaterSense also estimates that if every household in the United States installed WaterSense labeled showerheads, we could save more than $1.5 billion in water utility bills and more than 250 billion gallons of water annually (not to mention that we could avoid about $2.5 billion in energy costs for heating water!).
While the standard flow rate for showerheads is 2.5 gallons per minute (GPM), there are some older showerheads in use that use as much as 5 GPM!
You can save up to 40% of the water used for showering by replacing your older showerhead with a water efficient model. (Showerheads typically need to be replaced every 10 years.) WaterSense showerheads use no more than 2 GPM and are third party tested to ensure they meet EPA water efficiency and performance criteria (i.e. you will not have to sacrifice a good shower in order to achieve water savings!). There are also showerheads on the market that effectively use less than 2GPM.
What to look for when replacing an old showerhead
When replacing your old showerhead, whether you select a WaterSense showerhead or not, be sure to look for a one that has a flow rate of less than 2.5 gpm for maximum efficiency. Many water providers give high efficiency showerheads out to their customers for free, or you can purchase one at most home improvement stores for about $10-20.
How to install your water efficient showerhead:
- Remove old showerhead from shower arm. If you need to use a wrench to remove it, use a second wrench to hold the shower arm while you loosen the old showerhead. Use pieces of cloth to protect the finish.
- Briefly turn water on to rinse out pipe (turn it off before going to next step).
- Screw on the new showerhead and hand tighten.
- Test the showerhead. If it leaks, tighten by using one wrench on the shower arm and another one on the showerhead. Tighten until snug (DO NOT over tighten!). Leaks may also be prevented by applying two or three wraps of Tephlon tape in a clockwise motion to the threads of the shower arm before installing the new showerhead.
How to determine your showerhead's flow rate:
Not sure what your shower's flow rate is? Use this quick test to find out:
- Place a bucket-marked in gallon increments under your shower head.
- Turn on the shower at the normal water pressure you use.
- Time how many seconds it takes to fill the bucket to the 1-gallon mark.
If it takes less than 20 seconds to reach the 1-gallon mark, your shower uses about 3 gpm and you could benefit from a showerhead with a more efficent flow rate.
What to do if your showerhead leaks:
Most leaky showerheads can be fixed by ensuring a tight connection. See number four in the how to install your water efficient showerhead for more specific instructions on how to tighten the connection.
According to WaterSense, a showerhead leaking at 10 drips per minute wastes more than 500 gallons per year. That's enough water to wash 60 loads of dishes in your dishwasher.