Unsure if you need to switch to a new ultra low-flow shower head? Find out in 20 seconds: Put a bucket marked in gallon increments under the spray. If the water reaches the one-gallon mark in less than 20 seconds, you could benefit from a ultra low-flow shower head. Just make sure you check for ATC shower valves before installing.
But don’t be afraid that you’ll have to sacrifice a luxurious, powerful spray if your shower head flunks the test. The new generation of ultra low-flow shower heads might even be an improvement because of advances in technology.
What’s on the market?
Three ultra low-flow shower head technologies that don’t force you to sacrifice:
- Delta’s H2Okinetic Technology is an aerated version that borrows from the automotive industry’s windshield-sprayer technology. It manipulates droplet size and direction to make only 1.6 gallons per minute (gpm) feel drenching. That’s a 36% reduction over a standard low-flow shower head. The technology also compensates for loss of heat that is typical in aerated shower heads.
- Bricor uses a patented vacuum chamber and compacts water under pressure in its aerated technology to deliver an intense blast with only 1.25 gpm. It, too, compensates for loss of heat.
- Laminar flow technology, such as what the Earth Massage Shower head uses, is an alternative to the more established aerated technology. It puts out dozens of parallel streams instead of an aerated spray, creating the sensation of more water. It also loses less heat because no air is mixed in.
Laminar technology doesn’t produce as much steam as aerated methods, which can be a benefit if you live in a humid environment or if you hate to finish dressing in a steamy bathroom.
Ultra low-flow shower heads mean high-flow savings
At $50 to $200, any new ultra low-flow shower head can quickly pay for itself in reduced water-heating costs. You may even be able to score one for free with a rebate through your local utility.
And while you’re reducing your water use, you’ll also reduce your energy consumption, since we’re talking about water you pay to heat, by up to 50% while still enjoying a luxurious, powerful spray.
And to help you choose your ultra low-flow shower head, the EPA now puts WaterSense labels on shower heads like they have been doing with toilets.