Using a low-flow showerhead gives you a few notable benefits. The most notable benefit, which is inferred by the name of these money-saving devices, is that they decrease the flow rate of water during your shower, thus result in less water usage during your showers. However, while lowering your water’s flow rate, or using less gallons per minute (gpm) for each minute you shower, is a great benefit, it hardly gives you specifics on how much water you’re really conserving with a low-flow showerhead.
This is what we help you to discover: the real water-conservation savings experienced by using a low-flow showerhead vs. a traditional showerhead.
Identifying a shower head’s flow rate (gpm)
Showerheads sold today, at least in the United States, have a maximum flow rate of 2.5 gallons per minute or 2.5gpm. This means that for each minute you run your shower, you’re using 2.5 gallons of water, which is probably predominantly hot water. Low flow and ultra low flow showerheads come in all different shapes, sizes, pressures and gpm flow rates. Some of the most common, however, are 1.5gpm showerheads, 1.0gpm showerheads and even .5gpm showerheads — the latter are sometimes called ultra low flow because they allow very little water to flow through over the course of a minute.
Do you like long or short showers?
According to numerous online reports and a couple of studies (American Standard Bathroom Habits survey, Moen Plumbing Supply shower study), the average time Americans spend showering each day (or each session) is approximately 7-10 minutes. While there are always those who like, love or absolutely ‘need’ their 20-minute shower, those of us who prefer an occasional 3-minute shower apparently work to offset those who like longer showers.
While studies suggest that people average one shower per day, we’ll be bit conservative with our math when calculating the amount of water you can save with a low-flow showerhead versus using a traditional 2.5gpm shower head.
Monthly water savings with a low-gpm showerhead
To be conservative, let’s say that you take 25 showers over the course of a 30-day period. We’ll also assume that your average shower lasts 7 minutes — again — to be conservative. And, your low-flow showerhead of choice is something like this 1.5gpm low-flow showerhead — not ultra-low-flow, but still has a low enough gallon per minute rating to save you some water and maybe even a little bit of money.
Traditional 2.5gpm showerhead:
Taking 25 showers that last 7 minutes each means that you will shower 175 minutes. By multiplying 175 minutes by the gallons-per-minute flow rate, you will use about 437 gallons of water just on showering in one month.
Low-flow 1.5gpm showerhead:
Using the same estimates above, that 175 minutes of showering will result in 262 gallons of water spent on showering versus 437 gallons. That’s a savings of about 175 gallons, or a water-use reduction of about 60%. The differences are much more drastic when you look at the yearly picture.
Yearly water conservation with a low-flow showerhead
By extrapolating on our previous figures of 175 minutes of showering per month, you come up with these figures:
- With a traditional, 2.5gpm showerhead, you’ll use 5,250 gallons of water on showering in one year.
- With a 1.5gpm, low-flow showerhead, you’ll use 3,150 gallons of water over the course of one year.
This is a savings of just over 2,000 gallons per year. This is for one person taking adequate showers and showering once most days of the month. If you take into account multi-person households, families with kids or households where showers are a must-do daily routine, it would be easy to imagine saving 5,000 or more gallons per year when choosing a low flow showerhead versus a traditional showerhead.
While a low-flow showerhead may not save you hundreds of dollars each year, it will save you some money, and especially if you take other measures to reduce water usage, low-flow showerheads are a great investment — not only in terms of water conservation and financial benefit, but it’s a great way to ‘go green’ with a simple and easy-to-implement home improvement task.