Water-Saving Faucets and Showerheads

Go with the low flow and install environmentally friendly fixtures.

With a low-flow showerhead, you don't have to give up your invigorating morning shower. Good water-saving faucets and showerheads deliver what feels like full-volume water while cutting the costs of water, water heating, sewage and more. And they're available in wide ranges of styles and prices to meet all aesthetic needs.

Using low-flow faucets and showerheads sets off a positive chain reaction that encompasses less groundwater pumping, less water treatment, less distribution pumping and less sewer water reclamation and treatment. The cumulative effect of water-saving fixtures reduces water costs today and may reduce or eliminate the need for developing costly water resources in the future.

A conventional showerhead is rated to use 3 to 7 gallons per minute (gpm) at normal water pressure (80 psi). At these rates, a five-minute shower uses 15 to 35 gallons of water. In contrast, a five-minute shower with a water-saving showerhead that delivers 1 to 2.5 gpm uses only 5 to 12.5 gallons of water.

Low-flow showerheads designed to federal standards (2.5 gpm at 80 psi) typically incorporate a narrower spray area and a greater mix of air and water than conventional showerheads. As a result, they use less water but there’s no perceptible difference in quality or comfort. Features of these low-flow showerheads include atomizers that deliver water in small but abundant droplets to cover larger surface areas, pulsators that vary spray patterns with pauses between spurts or by pulsating between strong flow and light mist; and aerators that mix water droplets with air to cover the desired surface area. In addition, flow regulators on the shower controls can reduce or stop the water flow when you’re shampooing or soaping.

Low-flow faucets designed to federal standards (2.5 gpm at 80 psi) use sensors as well as aerators to reduce water consumption. You can select from among several low-flow faucet technologies for kitchens and baths, including a metered-valve faucet that delivers 0.25-gallon of water and then automatically shuts off. Self-closing faucets are spring-loaded to shut off the faucet a few seconds after the user turns it on. Ultrasonic, or infrared-sensor, faucets automatically activate the water flow when hands are detected beneath it and automatically shut it off when the hands are removed. Foot controls allow you to activate a faucet at a set temperature by tapping your foot on a pedal. Finally, a conventional faucet can be retrofitted simply and inexpensively by replacing the screw-in tip of the faucet with an aerator.

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