GPM stands for “gallons per minute,” and it’s the measure of how much water flows through a shower head in a minute of operation. Because showers account for a full 17% of all residential water use, in 1992, the US federal government passed rules requiring all shower heads be restricted to allow no more than 2.5 gallons per minute of water flow.
For a 10-minute shower, that’s still an impressive 25 gallons of water, and it adds up to over 9,000 gallons of water a year. In 2016, New York City and Colorado passed tighter legislation, restricting shower heads.
2.0 GPM vs. 2.5 GPM Shower Head
If your shower head was made after 1992 and hasn’t been replaced or upgraded to a low-flow model, chances are that you currently have a 2.5 GPM shower head.
Switching to a 2.0 GPM shower head could save you:
1,825 gallons of water a year
$25 per year in reduced energy costs
The savings go up the more people there are in a household. With a 2.0 GPM shower head, a family of four could save:
7,300 gallons of water per year
$100 a year in reduced energy costs
In fact, the EPA estimates that, if everyone in the US used a 2.0 GPM shower head, we could save:
260 billion gallons of water every year
$2.2 billion in water utility bills
$2.6 billion in energy costs for heating water
In other words, restricting water use during showering has a huge impact on our environment, both in terms of preserving fresh water supply, and in terms of reducing energy usage. It’s the smart thing to do.
How to Choose A Low-flow Shower Head
Consumers are legitimately upset and dissatisfied with the quality of many low-flow shower heads. The water can trickle out of the shower head, making it difficult to get clean or to enjoy a shower. It can make every shower take more time, offsetting the value of reducing the water flow, and make showers unpleasant, where only a small part of your body is in the water at any one time.
However, many manufacturers today are solving the need to reduce water flow without simply resorting to flow restrictors. Many modern shower heads have been designed from the inside out to use less water while still producing a satisfying level of water pressure and spray from the shower head, using innovative design and technologies to improve your shower experience.
If you want the cost savings of a low-flow shower head, and to help reduce your environmental impact when you shower, here are a few things to look for:
Consider a high-performance eco-friendly shower head
Shower heads that are sold as eco-friendly or environmentally safe often have an even lower GPM than is regulated, with flows as low as 1.5 GPM. The reason to consider these models is that they have usually been designed ground up to deliver a satisfying shower with reduced water usage.
With a new, eco-friendly shower head with an even lower flow than required, you know that they aren’t simply using a restrictor to reduce water flow to the maximum allowable amount but have instead redesigned the water flow entirely.
Choose an adjustable shower head
If you have a new, high-quality, adjustable shower head, you may find that there are times when you naturally want more or less water flow during your shower. Giving yourself the option to adjust the water flow on demand may help you naturally reduce water consumption without sacrificing any enjoyment.
Consider upgrading to a handheld shower head
Handheld shower head are a great way to make showers both more efficient and more enjoyable. They can spray water down on you from above like a conventional shower head, but you can also use the shower head to spray water exactly where you want it, at any angle. This can make rinsing away soap and dirt more efficient, and help you feel cleaner after every shower.
Save More with a Water Efficient Shower Head
Remember that keeping your shower head clean will also improve the flow of water, no matter what kind of shower head you have, or what the GPM rating is. Regular care and maintenance will keep your shower head delivering satisfying pressure, help every shower get you cleaner, and extend the life of your shower head.
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