June 2008
Be Water Wise and Savings Savvy
Conserve Water and Save Money with Low-Flow Fixtures

What if you could conserve water and save on water heating costs without sacrificing a shower?

Not using a low-flow showerhead means water - and money - down the drain.

Installing low-flow showerheads and faucets can conserve water and reduce water bills. And since nearly 75 percent of the water used in a typical shower is hot water, cutting down water use can also cut down on energy costs related to water heating.

Some people may have the wrong idea about low-flow showerheads. Older models often fell short of expectations that they would provide the same quality shower as a non-conserving model. However, current models utilize unique low-flow engineering that has enough velocity to meet, and often surpass, expectations.

There are two types of low-flow showerheads, aerating and laminar-flow. Aerating showerheads combine water with air, creating a misty spray with lots of steam. Laminar-flow showerheads form individual streams of water. Both provide a good quality spray.

Kits to convert your showerhead to a low-flow showerhead are available at home improvement stores. But many affordable options are also available for replacing your current showerhead and updating its look.

The flow of a faucet is regulated by the aerator, which fits on the tip of the faucet. You can also find these at home improvement stores. In most cases, it requires a simple change-out.

A showerhead or faucet's amount of flow, or flow rate, is measured in gallons per minute (gpm). The Federal Energy Policy Act of 1992 requires that all showerheads and faucets restrict flow at or below 2.5 gpm.

So how do you know if your home has showerheads and faucets that meet these requirements?

If your home is newer, it probably already features low-flow fixtures. But if your current faucets and showerheads pre-date 1992, they are probably not low-flow. Even some homes built after 1992 often utilized showerheads that did not meet low-flow requirements.

If you are unsure of the age and type of showerhead you have, you can do the bucket test.

When you decide to change out your showerheads and faucets, check out consumer reports and reviews to determine which models offer the best quality of spray. Even two models with the same flow rate may have different performance, so research comes in handy.

By cutting your bills and not sacrificing a shower, your wallet, and the people who live with you, will thank you.

Think Globally, Act Locally
Every day, three billion gallons of water flow through showerheads in the United States. Low-flow showerheads can cut the amount of water used during a shower by half. By changing out your non-conserving showerhead to a low-flow one, you could save on average over 40 percent of the amount of water used by a non-conserving showerhead, or about 12 gallons of water per shower.

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