Low flow shower heads reduce hot water use without lowering the shower pressure so you still get a great shower.

Low flow shower heads

Low flow shower heads help reduce hot water waste, but don’t lower the shower pressure and still give you a good shower. By restricting the flow and forcing the water through very small apertures, these showerheads aerate and increase the velocity of the water, creating a very fine but “wet” feeling spray pattern.

These devices can save substantial amounts of both energy and water. A low-flow showerhead uses less than 6-10 litres of water a minute, compared with 10 – 20 litres for an ordinary showerhead.

To test your showerhead turn the shower on at normal shower temperature and put a bucket under it for one minute. Record the number of litres in the bucket. If it is more than 6-10 litres per minute, it is not a low-flow showerhead and you will benefit from installing a new head.

There are a wide variety of low flow shower heads available, including the popular pulsating or “massage” type. Some of these showerheads incorporate a valve or pushbutton that interrupts the water flow while “soaping up”, saving even more hot water.

Most new showerheads for sale now are standard low flow shower heads. A low- flow shower head costs approximately $30-$40, is easy to install and can be used on all pressure systems.

Replacing a conventional shower head with a low flow model is usually a very quick and simple job. With a variety of adapters readily available, they can be fitted to most standard shower arms, including the swivel type.

An alternative to a low flow shower head is a shower flow restrictor.  This is a small plastic device with holes in it that you can install in the pipe behind the existing shower head.

Example of savings

A family of 3 may take almost 1,000 showers per year! With conventional showerheads using 19 litres of water per minute, and assuming 10 minutes per shower, the annual hot water usage would be 190,000 litres. If the conventional showerheads were replaced with low-flow models rated at 9 litres per minute (or with a shower flow restrictor reducing the flow to 9 litres per minute), the hot water use would be cut in half, saving about 100,000 litres annually. If this water is electrically heated, the annual cost savings would be at least $200.  If the new showerhead cost you $30, the payback is almost immediate, depending on the frequency of showers.

*Assuming a typical electric water heater, with a 33° C rise and a fuel cost of $.18/kWh

Low flow shower head