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High Efficiency Showerheads

Three Key Lessons We've Learned About Showerheads for Prisons

David Malcolm - Monday, February 21, 2011

Over the past two years, our company has changed out about 3,000 showerheads in state and BOP prisons across the U.S.  During that time, we've talked to many facilities managers and maintenance supervisors about the unique challenges they face in these times of ever-tightening budgets.  Here's a quick summary of the key things we have learned.

NUMBER ONE:  Changing out the water-wasting showerheads in a correctional facility to 1.5 gpm (gallons per minute) devices is about the cheapest, most dirt simple, most no-brainer money saving strategy a facilities manager or plant operations/maintenance supervisor can choose.  This applies even if the existing showerheads are 2.5 (or even 2.0) gpm models.

Some facilities do an entire water conservation project at once, including faucets and toilets.  This is a great way to save water, but it is easier and less expensive to start with just the showerheads and move on to other things when more money is available. 

We recently conducted a case study with the facilities staff at the Federal Correctional Institute in Herlong, California.  This is basically what we found:  The cost of replacing their 225 2.5 gpm showerheads with our 1.5 gpm showerheads was about $10,000.  The amount of water they saved in one year was 3,500,000 gallons.  The savings in energy costs associated with heating this water was $52,500.  The payback period for the 10 grand they laid out was (drum roll please) only three months!

When considering the savings to be realized through showerhead change-outs, maintenance is another factor.  Your plumber's time is money.  We are obviously a bit biased, but our device will not clog.  It achieves its flow reduction through the mechanics of its patented nozzle—not by way of forcing water through multiple small nozzles or the holes in a plastic regulator.

NUMBER TWO:  There are a lot of different models of institutional showerheads out there—and most of them can be retrofitted without ripping out walls or incurring a small fortune in change-out costs from the original manufacturer.  The big-name institutional plumbing manufacturers typically charge much more than a small company does.

Our company has adapted its patented high efficiency nozzle to a number of standard institutional showerhead mounts, and we are currently working on more thread sizes and mounting strategies.

NUMBER THREE:   If an inmate wants to mess with a showerhead, that inmate will mess with a showerhead.  By nature, most prison showerheads (our company's included) are tamper-resistant—but that doesn't mean that a determined inmate with a lot of time on his or her hands won't get hold of the right tool for removing and disassembling (or even drilling out!) the vandal-resistant device. 

We have heard of inmates breaking into our showerheads with the help of tools, but it is quite rare.  We believe that the comfortable spray from our devices is more likely to be accepted by inmates than the spray from some other low flow institutional devices.  We hope that this will make tampering less of an issue.

Thanks for reading. Your comments are welcome!

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