Install a Low-Flow Showerhead to Significantly Reduce Water Use

October 23, 2011 View all articles in Home

Did you know most showerhead fixtures installed in the early 90s have flow rates of more than 5 gallons of water per minute? Because that is much more water than is necessary, the federal requirement has since been reduced to 2.5 gallons per minute. This is good for those whose showerheads have been installed recently, especially since showers account for 22 percent of individual water use in North America alone, but those with older showerheads are still wasting a lot of water.


  • Set a bucket marked with gallon increments on the floor of your shower, positioning it so it's in the middle of the stream, under the showerhead.
  • Turn on the shower to a normal pressure and count how many seconds it takes to fill the bucket to the 1-gallon mark.
  • If the bucket takes less than 20 seconds to reach the 1-gallon mark, you should get a low-flow showerhead.


Aerating showerheads: An aerating, low-flow showerhead mixes air into the water stream and maintains a steady pressure, so you don't notice that less water is being used.

  • One possible negative aspect of an aerating, low-flow showerhead is that the water temperature can be cooler towards the floor of the shower.
  • An aerating, low-flow showerhead usually costs between $5 and $10, and can be purchased at your local hardware store.

Non-Aerating showerheads: A non-aerating, low-flow showerhead maintains temperature and delivers a strong spray that pulses and gives a slight massaging effect.

  • Non-aerating, low-flow showerheads don't create as much steam and moisture as aerating ones, which makes them beneficial to those living in humid climates.
  • These showerheads cost between $8 and $50, depending on the features, which may include adjustable dials, designer styling, and/or hand-held capabilities.


  • If you have an old aerator already installed, just unscrew it with channel-lock pliers, vise-grips, a small pipe wrench, or possibly by hand.
  • With your new showerhead in-hand, wrap a single strip of white pipe tape around its threads.
  • Put the rubber washer inside the end of the showerhead and screw it into the faucet.
  • Run the water to test for leaks. If any water comes out of the sides, try tightening the showerhead more by hand. If that still doesn't protect against leaks, put a damp cloth around the base of the showerhead and use pliers to finish tightening it.


  • Without a low-flow showerhead installed, you can assume your shower is releasing 4 gallons per minute. To only use 28 gallons of water, you'll need to limit your shower time to 7 minutes.
  • If you don't want to install a low-flow showerhead, but still want to save water, turn off the water while you're lathering up, shaving, or shampooing, which will cut your water run time to 3 minutes and your water usage to just 12 gallons.
  • Even with a low-flow showerhead installed, you're going to want to shower for only 10 minutes in order to keep your water consumption under 20 gallons.
  • You could significantly reduce your household water consumption simply by repairing leaks in your showerheads and/or pipes. In fact, a leak that drips just once per second can cost you an extra dollar a month.
  • Call your local HVAC specialist or plumber to have your water heater maintained regularly to prevent leaks.
  • Remember, when shopping for low-flow showerheads, you'll need to look for ones that have flow rates of less than 2.5 gpm for maximum water efficiency.


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