Save On Utility Bills With Lo-Flow Showerheads

Popular Mechanics has 19 ways to cut your utility bill. One that saves a decent chunk of change is is installing low-flow shower heads, with an estimated monthly savings of $15. [Popular Mechanics] (Thanks to Robert!)(Photo: SA_Steve)

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  1. mike says:

    Somewhere, Kramer is screaming.

  2. gqcarrick says:

    I hate those things. Anyone remember the Seinfeld episode with them?

    • alexawesome says:

      @gqcarrick: Yeah. If it takes twice/three times as long for me to get clean because i’m standing under the pressure equivalent of a gentle rain, how the heck is that going to SAVE WATER?

      • TheLadyK says:

        @alexawesome: Honestly, manufacturers are getting better at making high efficiency products that actually work, as well as save water. Try one that you can return if it sucks.

        Swapping out a showerhead is really easy and actually saves water and the energy to heat it.

      • JuantheGardener says:

        @alexawesome: Yeah I hate them also for the same reason. It’s more like a spray and in my experience, when you first turn them on you get sprayed with cold water since it took a little longer to warm up with the hot water turned on.

      • kdollarsign says:

        my thoughts EXACTLY. believe me, I’ll shore up $15 a month to wash the freaking conditioner out of my hair. I don’t know any woman that could live with that.

  3. MissPeacock says:

    That is one of the funniest, most awesome pictures I’ve ever seen on the Consumerist. Bravo!!!

  4. eric4ok says:

    Saves $155 per month ONLY in those months that have 52 weeks in them.

  5. Michael Belisle says:

    Anybody know of any great ultra-hi-flow shower heads?

    Water is the only utility paid at my apartment complex.

    • Suttin says:

      @Michael Belisle:

      I have an ultra high flow shower. I love it. Its so high that if I stand to close to the head, water will spray out of the top of the shower.

      :)

    • ecwis says:

      @Michael Belisle: If possible, you should redo your bathroom and put in a side sprayer, an overhead rain shower head, and a hand-held sprayer.

      If you can’t, the Giessdorf 8 Jet Shower Head seems like the best choice. You apartment would have to have good water pressure to start with though.
      [www.neatitems.com]

    • B1663R says:

      @Michael Belisle: Yeah, there is the Aqua Kleen 3000. but, i can’t sell you that. it’s mostly used in the circus industry to wash off elephants.

    • TheLadyK says:

      @Michael Belisle: This is one of the neatest things ever. And it pours water like noe one’s business. It can also be synced up with an iPod and deliver moving color prettiness with your 10 gal per min shower.

      [www.us.kohler.com]

    • Trai_Dep says:

      @Michael Belisle: Rip the showerhead off and stand under the naked, gushing, exposed pipe? :D

    • xnihilx says:

      @Michael Belisle:
      Waterpik shower heads have a REMOVABLE (YAY! HAPPINESS!) Flow restrictor. I HATE HATE HATE Low Flow with a passion. If I wanted to spend an hour in the shower trying to get shampoo out of my hair and soap off myself and still not feel clean I’d take a bath.

    • Wireless Joe says:

      @Michael Belisle:

      I just took a regular hand-held shower and removed the flow restriction thingy. Problem solved.

    • kdollarsign says:

      everyone content to mock your request? never fear. I got off my couch just for you to check my brand — waterpik – the original shower massage. is the tag. thank god for the folks at home depot who pointed me in the right direction. it’s totally affordable and has been GREAT.

  6. shannanigans slash pterodactyl says:

    $155 in monthly savings? my entire water bill is usually less than $40…

    … ah, the article actually says $15 in monthly savings. that makes a lot more sense.

  7. yajjo says:

    Monthly savings of $155? Are they showering with Evian over at Popular Mechanics?

  8. Miraluka says:

    Even if I paid for my water utilities, I would never install a low flow shower head. I just don’t feel clean…
    Luckily water is included in my rent, not an additional utility.

    • ecwis says:

      @Miraluka: I actually like my low flow shower head more than most other shower heads… It’s an efficient one so it feels stronger than most shower heads.

      • econobiker says:

        @ecwis: I can also report that the low flow shower head is pretty good too as any standard head makes me feel like I am under a waterfall now.

  9. Tallanvor says:

    My average water bill was just under $8/month at the last place I lived in the States. I’m not sure I even want to know what state has water bills high enough for you to save $155/year just using a low-flow shower head!

  10. downwithmonstercable says:

    That might take into account the electricity you save by using less hot water?

  11. Brain.wav says:

    Water pressure is low enough where I am, a lo-flo would make it unbearable. Of course, maybe the water heater could keep up better if we used lo-flow.

    • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

      @brainwav: You need an aerating low-flow showerhead. We have lower water pressure in our house, and the low-flow aerating showerhead not only cut a HUGE chunk out of our water bills (my husband takes endless showers), but gives a “harder” shower.

    • kdollarsign says:

      I shall once again recommend waterpik – the original massaging showerhead. affordable. easy to install (once you remove the low flow thingy from the nozzle). I tossed out my apartment’s original showerhead and never looked back.

  12. billbillbillbill says:

    My water company bills a flat rate for the first 10,000 gallons used. We rarely use more than 5,000 in a month so no savings here (except that we probably have low flow heads already installed)

  13. humphrmi says:

    The one that saves you the most per month is installing low-flow shower heads, with an estimated monthly savings of $155.

    I always laugh when I hear this. $155 per month, eh? That amount is lower than the total cost of my water heater gas (which also fuels my furnace and gas dryer) and water bill put together. In the most expensive winter month.

    Still, I’m not knocking it – sure, put one in. I think I actually saw a savings of around $2-3 per month. Yay.

    • jbl-az says:

      @humphrmi: Fortunately that’s a typo by, I think, our esteemed editor. The article itself says $15 per month.

      • humphrmi says:

        @jbl-az: [doing my best Roseanne Roseannadanna voice] “Well, Jane, it just goes to show you, it’s always something.”

        • Citron says:

          @humphrmi: The important part is that you use less water overall, not so much the three or four dollars you save. Move to someplace like Georgia or Nevada where they’ve had to ration it, and you’ll realize that even in America, LAND OF PLENTY, clean water isn’t some magical infinite resource that we can just flippantly waste wherever we please.

  14. MightyJoe36 says:

    I don’t know which one I hate worse – the low flow showerhead, or it’s evil cousin, the low flow toilet.

    What idiot came up with these things?

    With the low flow showerhead, it’s like you’re getting rained on, you have to shower twice as long to feel clean.

    With those stupid toilets, you have to flush the damn thing 4 times after taking a dump.

    Tell me how that’s saving water?

    • billbillbillbill says:

      @MightyJoe36: We had a plumber come out and look at our toilets since you had to hold the handle down forever to get it to flush. He brought some red flappers to replace the flappers in the toilet. He showed me that the low flow toilets install flappers with holes in the side which make it close faster. He replaced them with the red flappers he bought at Lowes and our toilet is super powerful. He did say that it is not low flow any more but I think I am saving in the long run instead of flushing multiple times. Just an idea.

      • Citron says:

        @billbillbillbill: Any American showerhead manufactured after 1994 already runs at 2.5 gal/min. It’s illegal for it to dump out any more water, so there’s a decent chance most people already have “low flow” showerheads of a sort.

        I’ve heard of people going as low as 1.5 gal/min, but they have mineral clog issues.

        • jstonemo says:

          @Citron: Actually, if you take of the showerhead, you can pop out the low-flow restriction piece and screw the head back on. Screw the Feds, I want full flow!

          • Citron says:

            @jstonemo: That’s true. The ones that are retrofitted with washers can be removed. I don’t know if it works on the really new ones or not. I can’t say I’ve ever been interested in trying it. I don’t have any problems with my showerhead.

    • Adisharr says:

      @MightyJoe36:

      I’m with you – I want to power flush my turd through the system, not ease it along like a little puppy.

      • Anonymous says:

        I have a newer low flow shower head and toilet, both are great. The shower head is one of those big rainfall style heads and rinses me clean without a problem. The toilet sucks down any thing I throw at it. Makes a bigger “ba-WHOOSH” than ony old high flow toilet ever did. I love them both, especially when the water bill comes.

      • mattshu says:

        @Adisharr: @Adisharr: Best. Comment.Ever

    • Git Em SteveDave loves this guy--> says:

      @MightyJoe36: I hate when a toilet is set on stun, and not kill.

  15. Ben Popken says:

    I swear it said $155 last night.

  16. Sure I could agree with you, but then we'd BOTH be wrong. says:

    For those who either (a) just don’t care and would rather get CLEAN in the shower and not spend four times as long rinsing off soap, or (b) have water paid by the landlord, here’s how to make your “Low-Flow” showerhead into a POWER head:

    You should get a roll of plumbers tape (that white, thin, roll of silicone)

    Unscrew the shower head. Clean any plumbers tape from the grooves on the showerhead and from the shower faucet. Now, with pliers, reach in the head, and pull out that black rubber “governor” which restricts the flow of water.

    Now, take the roll of plumber’s tape and wrap a layer around the thread on the shower faucet. Screw the shower head back on, and tighten.

    You now have a fully functional shower.

    Cost? Apparently $15 per month. Worth it to feel clean. Even more worth it if the landlord pays it.

    • Git Em SteveDave loves this guy--> says:

      @Dooley: That stuff is usually teflon tape. Silicone tape is the stuff that will usually self seal only to itself, and can stop leaks. If you put THAT around the threads of your shower head, it will not screw back on. Also, make sure you wrap the PTFE tape in the direction you will be screwing on. If you wrap it backwards, it will not thread properly.

    • RedwoodFlyer says:

      @Dooley:

      Here’s a protip for travelers: If you’re checking in bags, for god’s sake…pack a wrench and teflon tape!

      I’ve been plucking the farking regulators out of hotel showers for years…great timesaver! Plus it somewhat played a part in how I met an ex of mine ;)!

  17. Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

    Aerating low-flow showerheads, people! It mixes air into the water stream so you can get just as much pressure with FAR less water. It cut a good quarter out of my water bill. Now, my husband takes ridiculously long showers, but we’re using SO much less water!

    The pressure with our aerating low-flow is HIGHER than the pressure was with our standard-flow, because of the aeration.

    We got a basic aerating low-flow model at Lowe’s. You can get really fancy aerating ones with filters and all kinds of crap, but this one cost $15 and works wonderfully.

    • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

      @Eyebrows McGee: Add: It also actually feels warmer, since it creates a lot of mist when it aerates. I was worried adding in air would make the shower feel colder, but not at all.

      • GeoffinAround says:

        @Eyebrows McGee: That was my impression of low-flow shower heads as well. Good water pressure is too good to give up, but with the aerated heads I feel that it actually does a better job in that regard than do standard heads.

  18. Adisharr says:

    One of the few things I enjoy is a high-flow shower. I’ll pay the $15 and get all the shampoo out of my hair.

  19. backbroken says:

    Question: Would you pay an extra $5 to feel clean and have more satisfying showers?

    Answer: Of course you would.

    If you want to save money, get rid of the 50 cable channels you never or rarely watch.

  20. consumer-warrior says:

    This photo? How gay can you get? Not that that’s bad!!!!

    • Acolyte says:

      @consumer-warrior: Funny how in those days groups showers were something all men went through at one point in their lives and it wasn’t an issue. Nowadays a group of men in a shower brings up enough issues and innuendos……

    • Traveshamockery says:

      @consumer-warrior: I’ll add the obligatory “Not that there’s anything wrong with that!”

      • banmojo says:

        @InfiniTrent: public health reports would beg to differ with your statement (syphilis, tuberculosis, genital warts, chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV, the list just goes on and on and on)

        on a side note – how will those men save water when they’re spending extra time in the shower fondling one another? then there’s the cleanup afterwards, which leads to more fondling – it’s a vicious circle which results in obscene (scenes) amounts of money being paid for wet orgies.

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      @consumer-warrior: The assumption that men taking a shower together makes them gay is pretty offensive to a lot of people.
      If we weren’t all so afraid of our god-given human bodies, and things that are different from the “main stream” I think the world would be a much better place.

    • AMetamorphosis says:

      @consumer-warrior:

      As an openly gay man I didn’t even think about the homosexual tones of the picture … lol

  21. GuinevereRucker says:

    “with an estimated monthly savings of $15″

    But how much will you save if you shower once a week?

  22. nataku8_e30 says:

    Hrmm, my water bill is basically fixed at $9 / month (my water authority is weird…) and my gas bill is a minimum $10 / month, and usually ends up at about $15 / month ($5 gas usage). I think I’ll stick with my 2.5 GPM shower head.

  23. Git Em SteveDave loves this guy--> says:

    R. Buckminster Fuller, the man who the Buckminster-fullerine, AKA Bucky-balls is named after designed a whole apartment building that was modular. One of the features was a shower that he deisgned. After observing that while on a Navy ship, a crewman from the engine room covered in soot and grime, had come up to the main deck, and just the mist in the air combined with the speed of the ship caused all the soot and grime to literally melt away. IIRC, the shower used some crazy small amount of water, like a Gallon every 3 minutes.

  24. legwork says:

    Or… keep your happy-flow showerhead. Install a shut-off valve instead to save water while soaping.

  25. chrisexv6 says:

    I love the suggestion about 65.00/window for DIY install.

    Id love to find a $65.00 window that doesnt leak worse than a single pane window from the 70s.

  26. bastion72 says:

    When I was stationed on a ship we would take sea showers. Coast Guard, not Navy if you were wondering.
    1) Turn on water and get wet.
    2) Turn off water.
    3) Soap up, lather up.
    4) Turn on water, rinse off.
    5) Profit.

  27. tekkierich says:

    we have a low flow in the guest room shower. If we didn’t the hot water would not keep up with winter time guests.

  28. aliasmisskat says:

    Save $15 dollars per month on your water bill, and then spend an extra $40 a month getting Malibu treatments to actually get your hair clean. Well, if you’re a girl. And you have hair. And you’re vain. And you’re me.

  29. Thanatos says:

    The apartment i moved into no to long ago had a lowflow shower on it, it wasnt a shower it was more like a mist so i promptly changed it for a real shower head, ill gladly pay $15 a month if it mean i can enjoy taking a shower and actually get clean.

  30. RevRagnarok says:

    I have an American Standard FlowWise and I love it. It ain’t cheap, about $70 online. But it’s great – I saw it on “Modern Marvels.” It’s got a spinner in it which makes it pulse. Then you can switch it to “regular flow” to rinse. If you didn’t know, you’d never guess it was low flow.

    Couldn’t tell you my water bill changes tho, sorry.

  31. __Ken__ says:

    I like saving money like everyone else on this site, but for $15 I’ll keep my shower that works, thanks.

  32. AD8BC says:

    All showerheads have been low flow for like 15 years. I don’t understand what this big “Low Flow” kick is — unless your house was built in the 80s or before, you would be replacing a low-flow with a low-flow. I think it is a big scam by the shower head companies to get you to spend money.

    I have been known to remove the governers from these showerheads (sometimes it takes a drill or a good knife). I have to admit, there are some good 2.5GPM showerheads out there now, but the early ones sucked… especially those in hotel bathrooms!

    I tried an aerating shower head but I took it out, in the winter I keep the house about 66-68 degrees and the cold air was mixing into the hot water and I actually used more hot water to compensate.

  33. corinthos says:

    I hate those shower heads. I also hate new toilets. I think its worth it paying the extra for more water. I don’t care about future generations.

  34. squishyalt says:

    Even better — [www.itjustmakessense.net] .

    $29.95 + $7.95 shipping gets you an even more miserly shower without having to put up with the trickle down theory of getting clean with a low flo shower head.

  35. squishyalt says:

    Ooops! Forgot to mention the one that you can add to your current shower head (esp nice if you have a rain shower head with a 10″ diameter like I have and you don;t want to ditch your current shower head).

    [www.accentshopping.com] – about the same price as the previous one…..

  36. Trai_Dep says:

    I hear on Arrakis, they take sand showers…

  37. ideagirl says:

    low flow shower heads are of the devil. When I was a renter, I had a special, nice shower head I would switch out for the cheap low flow one as soon as I moved in. It was the only way I could feel clean. When it was time to move out, I’d swap back in the old one.

  38. econobiker says:

    I have the low flow shower head in one bath (wife has standard shower head in one) plus insulated all the hot water pipes in the crawlspace of my first floor apartment. This was not only a comfort/ heating cost saving thing as the water heater is far away from the kitchen but a water saving thing since we don’t have run the water as much to get it hot. I am sure the complex would not pay to save other tenants this way.

    At my apartment complex the new cheap-mo-fo apartment management has instituted an evil scheme called “sub-metering” which means that each building is equally screwed for water cost even if different occupancy numbers in different apartments. Basically a third party submetering place bills residents. This is supposed to “encourage conserving water” but it is really a way for the complex to push water cost plus profit off on the residents while keeping rents low. Supposedly 1 bedrooms were paying $35-$40 each per month which is BS in my book.

    And so far we are avoiding the sub-metering company since the voice messages that they -might???- be leaving for us to sign up only record the Spanish language portion of the phone message on our voicemail. Since we do not know Spanish we do not know the reason to call back and have reported this soliciation on various “who called me” websites…

    However, I also gutted the water-saving toilets by cutting out the separate holding tank inside the tank. The reason for this is that the toilets just didn’t work and I figured that 5 to 6 little flushes equal 1 or 2 big flushes. At the same time I did lower the water level lower than with the holding tank so some is saved there…

  39. Traveshamockery says:

    Low flow? I won’t go!

    My parents will says that in the case of their death, I get their super high flow, drilled out firehose of a showerhead. It will be mine. Oh yes, it will be mine.

  40. jstonemo says:

    How much do people pay for water? My water bill is normally around $20 a month with 4 people in the house. When I filled up my 13,000 gallon pool for the first time, it only cost me an extra $45 for that month.

  41. brian01 says:

    This is actually a very gay idea. Could you imagine four or five men taking a shower and scrubbing each other?

  42. boomerang86 says:

    I’m using a Delta branded shower head I found @ Home Depot a few months back for $12.50. It has a rating of 1.6 GPM. Took getting used to, the first time the wate came out with such force that it stings your skin.

    It might take an extra minute or two for rinsing now, but the tradeoff is definately worth it.

  43. vastrightwing says:

    I caution of all of you whom decide to save water. DON’T DO IT! This will cause a chain reaction to occur at the point of the utility. 1) You get a worse shower. 2) The utility will cry to the public commission that it needs to raise rates. Why? because people are using less water and they are making less money! 3) They rates will go up. Conclusion. Saving water will cost you more in the long run. Enjoy!

  44. harvey_birdman_attorney_at_law says:

    Showering with other men is the besssst, Fezzzz.

  45. SeanMacATL says:

    Here in Atlanta, where we have the water shortage, apartments are installing the dish sprayer you normally see on sinks as an attachment to the shower head. It’s high pressure, full spray, but only when you click the handle. I have to say it’s kinda nifty.

  46. Squeezer99 says:

    i hate low flow heads as it is, i have to shower 2x as long with them to get clean

  47. LeonieNike says:

    for those who still need help, I found this site which gave some ways and programs that help save on heating and utility bills. Help is provided both from the gov’t and utility companies themselves.
    http://www.utilitybillassistance.com

  48. FLConsumer says:

    General rule — avoid anything the big box / big brands carry. Go for the commercial-grade stuff.

    Speakman Anystream — the original 6-jet 1.5 lb of solid brass showerheads FTW. Haven’t measured it, but I’d guess it’s at least 4 gpm if not more. Doesn’t clog, even with Florida’s limestone-filled water. My oldest one has been installed for > 10 years now and I’ve never had to unclog it.

    At full-throttle these puppies will rip off any scabs you might have on your skin and leave you bruised. Back off the pressure a bit or change the spray pattern and it’s like a good rainstorm. MY type of showerhead! It actually is just as good as sex. Cheaper and safer too!

    I do have a Speakman Anystream 2000 in the guest bath running at 2.5gpm (same as the Marriott hotels have). It’s not bad and gives a decent shower, but isn’t in the same league as the original guzzler Speakmans. They have done a good job of optimizing the spray pattern to do the most with the 2.5 gpm ‘though.

    On the low-flow toilets — Some work, some don’t. I have two Japanese Totos (Jap spec, not US spec) and they work like none other both literally and figuratively. Literally in that they are a simple weir / overflow dam and not the complex siphon system most toilet use. There’s no swirling around or rising water. It just goes straight down, continuously. Because of this, they’ll swallow an entire roll of Charmin Ultra 2-ply on a single flush. No clogs since they were installed 2 years ago.

    Contrast this to the brand new American Standard toilets that the house came with. I was either plunging or augering out those toilets at least once a week. Those damn AS toilets even clogged on “courtesy flushes”! Terrible feeling to have it choke on the courtesy flush when you’ve not even started to fill out the paperwork, let alone file the paperwork yet.

  49. MunkyBoi says:

    Oxygenics makes low-flow stuff with some really good pressure to it. I changed both of my showerheads over, and they work great. They’re one of those “Sharper Image” branded products.