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High Efficiency Showerheads

Free Low Flow Showerheads: Are They Really Such a Good Deal?

David Malcolm - Thursday, February 10, 2011

You've likely seen the headlines by now:  "Water Company to Offer Free Low Flow Showerheads to All Customers;" "Utility Company Gives Away Free Low Flow Conservation Kits;" College to Give Away Free Low Flow Showerheads to All Students."

Great deal right?  Well, maybe not so great. At the risk of boring everybody with the old cliché, you get what you pay for.  


Not always, perhaps.  But it stands to reason that these showerheads are not going to cost the agencies and institutions that give them away a whole lot of money. 

So let's talk about cheap low flow showerheads.  First, the body will likely be plastic--or at minimum the functional parts will be plastic.  It probably won't be made in the USA by a green manufacturing company.  And the low flow rating of 1.5 to 2.0 GPM will likely be achieved by an inefficient means.

Cheap low flow showerheads often restrict the flow by forcing water through tiny holes or through a tiny screen, both of which tend to clog up quickly.  Or they may force the water around a disc, creating a stinging, hollow spray that is anything but comfortable.

Aerating showerheads are a tad more expensive, so your local utility district probably wouldn't be using this more desirable means of restricting water flow.  But even aerating showerheads have their drawbacks, the worst of which is their tendancy to cool down the water (meaning you'll have to use more energy to make the spray comfortably warm).

You can probably see where we're going with this.  These agencies and institutions have embarked on a truly noble cause.  But if customers throw their shower heads away because they are uncomfortable, or because they becomes hopelessly clogged and lose their pressure, it's just a big waste of money and resources. 

Worse, people may be tempted to remove the screens or other restricting devices, creating a water-guzzling monster.  That really defeats the cause of giving away water saving showerheads.

A good low flow showerhead such as the High Sierra has a nice-feeling, drenching spray, will not clog up, and will save you about 40 percent in water and energy savings over a standard 2.5 gpm showerhead.  The payback period for a HighSierra showerhead is just two or three months.  Payback on a "free low flow showerhead" is zero.  But that won't mean much if you end up throwing it away!

Thanks for reading. Your comments are welcome.





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