Everything you need to know about water-saving shower heads
Did you know that, according to the United States Geological Survey, the average person uses 80-100 gallons of water per day — and about half of that is from showering?
That’s a lot of water. And with droughts and water shortages becoming more common, it’s more important than ever to be mindful of our water usage.
Enter the water-saving shower head! These eco-friendly plumbing fixtures have been around since the 1980s but, thanks to improved technology and a greater focus on sustainability, they’re more popular than ever.
Read on to learn everything you need to know about water-saving shower heads — and if adding one to your home is right for you.
A quick note: Water-saving shower heads are also sometimes called low-flow shower heads. Both terms indicate fixtures that are designed for efficient water use, so we'll be using them interchangeably in this post.
What are water-saving shower heads?
Simply put, a water-saving shower head is one that uses less water than a standard shower head. In the U.S., the standard maximum flow rate for shower heads is 2.5 gallons per minute (GPM). Shower heads that use no more than 2.0 GPM are considered water-saving or low-flow.
The best low-flow shower heads carry a WaterSense label. To be WaterSense-certified by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), they must use no more than 2.0 GPM and perform as well as, or better than, traditional shower heads without sacrificing water pressure or spray coverage.
Read more about flow rate.
What are the benefits of low-flow shower heads?
Switching to a more efficient shower head is one of the easiest ways to slash your utility bills and live more sustainably.
According to the EPA, the average American family could save 2,700 gallons of water per year by installing WaterSense-labeled shower heads in their home. That water conservation could mean lower water utility bills and a boost for your wallet.
But the benefits don't stop there. Because lower water use lessens the workload of water heaters, water-saving shower heads also help save energy. In fact, the EPA also finds that the average family could save more than 330 kilowatt hours of electricity annually by switching to a low-flow shower head. That's enough wattage to power a house for 11 whole days!
Water and energy savings translates into a decreased environmental impact and lower carbon footprint. The EPA estimates that if every household in the U.S. installed WaterSense shower heads, we could save 260 billion gallons of water annually. We could also reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 0.93–1.52 gigatons by reducing the energy used to heat water.
Tackling utility bills in the summer
Utility bills tend to be a lot higher in the summer. If you’re able to use less water from June through August, you’ll be able to largely reduce your annual energy and water costs.
Try taking cooler showers in the summer months to lower your bills even more. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates a staggering 20% of home energy use can be attributed to the simple act of heating water! Energy use adds up. Commit to lowering your temperature a few degrees to save money over time.
How do low-flow shower heads save water?
When shopping for a low-flow shower head, you'll likely come across 2 options: aerating shower heads and laminar-flow. Both use less water than standard shower heads but employ different technology to still produce a powerful spray with solid water pressure.
Aerating shower heads
Aerated shower heads blend water with air to create larger droplets that deliver the feeling of a higher water flow. The result is a luxurious, full-pressure shower experience that uses less water.
Laminar-flow shower heads
Laminar-flow shower heads, on the other hand, emit a stream of water in a single plane. Because they produce less steam, they are a better option in bathrooms without great ventilation.
What types of water-saving shower heads are there?
Now that you know a little more about how they work, it's time to choose the perfect water-saving shower head for your bathroom.
There are 4 main types of water-saving shower heads: fixed, handheld, combination, and rain shower heads. Let's take a closer look at each one.
Fixed shower heads
A fixed shower head is the most common type of fixture. It's attached directly to a shower arm and can't be removed, though some have features that allow them to be reangled and adjusted. They are easy to install and are a great option if you're looking for low-cost along with your water savings.
Handheld shower heads
A handheld shower head is attached to the wall with a hose. This gives you the ability to spray water exactly where you need it. A hand shower is a great option for anyone with mobility challenges. They also make cleaning fidgety kids or pets a breeze.
Combination shower heads
A combination shower head is a fixed head with a detachable handheld unit. They include a 3-way diverter that allows each of the two heads to be used individually or at the same time.
Rain shower heads
A rain shower head is a type of fixed shower head that delivers water from above. They are often square or rectangular and mounted directly into a bathroom ceiling, making them more expensive to install.
Can I get a low-flow shower head with luxury features?
Many modern water-saving shower heads are packed with the same premium features you'd find in standard shower heads. You definitely don't have to sacrifice luxury for sustainability.
Some high-end features you might find include:
- Multiple spray settings: Choose from different types of sprays, such as silk spray, mist, and pulsating massage.
- LED lights: These can be used as mood lighting for a relaxing shower, or they may serve as indicator lights in some smart showers.
- Water temperature display: Some models include a digital readout that tells you the exact water temperature, so you don't have to step in and test the waters yourself. What's the bottom line? Water-saving shower heads are a great way to save water and money. They can also be loaded with features that enhance your shower.
- Eye-catching aesthetics: Some models include sleek metal finishes and even colorful hardware to match your space.
Should I get a low-flow shower head?
Whether or not you make the swap to a shower head designed to conserve water depends on a few factors. Some states actually require low-flow shower heads. So far, those states include California, Colorado, Hawaii, New York, Vermont, and Washington, which all have 2.0 or 1.8 GPM limits.
A water-saving shower head might also be right for you if you have low water pressure. Many are specifically designed to create more pressure in your shower without additional water use.
Finally, a water-saving shower head is a great choice if you're looking for ways to reduce your environmental impact and lower your water and energy costs. All without sacrificing the quality of your shower experience.
The best water-saving shower head for 2023
hai WaterSense 1.8 GPM Shower Head
Our pick for the best low-flow shower head has an ultra-efficient 1.8 GPM water flow rate, easily adjustable spray patterns, a ton of style, and additional smart features designed to help reduce your water consumption even more by changing your habits. Plus it can be installed in just a few minutes.
Here are a handful of things we love about this high-tech shower powerhouse:
- Immersive coverage. The hai WaterSense model delivers the full-body spray of a rain shower and impressive water pressure while using less water.
- Spray control at your fingertips. Seamlessly transition between different spray settings — from a steady shower stream to a spa-like mist (and everything in between).
- Personalized eco-minded alerts. Save even more water with LED alerts that tell you when the water's warm and when you're at your water use target.
- Durable construction. All hai shower heads are made from stainless steel to last a lifetime. That means you can keep them in your home, and out of the landfill.
- The hai app. Your hai shower head is Bluetooth-enabled to sync with the hai companion app. Be your own conservation coach by using it to track your shower water use, set water-saving goals, and change your habits over time.
A water-saving shower head with a higher flow.
Want to save water but would prefer to keep your flow rate options open? hai's Regular 2.5 GPM Shower Head is engineered to help you change your habits while maintaining its high-pressure flow. Use smart features like personalized LED alerts and the hai app to set water-saving goals and reduce your environmental impact.
Shower heads designed to conserve water are not only a great way to save money in the long run, but can also provide a luxurious shower experience while helping reduce your environmental impact.
If you decide a water-saving shower head is right for you, be sure to do your research and choose a model that works well with your home's plumbing while providing the features you want. With so many great options on the market, it's easy to find a low-flow shower head that's perfect for your needs.