Why we have water flow regulations for showerheads

New rules proposed for showerheads

A showerhead. (Pexels)

Did you have showerheads on your 2020 news cycle bingo board?

Somehow, amid the myriad of important issues and crisis in the world, we’re talking about showerheads and water pressure. Why?

On Wednesday, the Trump administration said it wants to change a 28-year-old energy law that regulates how much water comes out of your showerhead -- because it’s a pet peeve of President Donald Trump.

While speaking at the White House in July, Trump said:

“So showerheads — you take a shower, the water doesn’t come out. You want to wash your hands, the water doesn’t come out. So what do you do? You just stand there longer or you take a shower longer? Because my hair — I don’t know about you, but it has to be perfect. Perfect.”

Trump has made similar comments about other energy efficient products, like light bulbs and appliances.

What would change?

Since first enacted in 1992, federal law has dictated that new showerheads shouldn’t pour more than 2.5 gallons of water per minute. As newer shower fixtures came out with multiple nozzles, in 2013, the Obama administration defined the showerhead restrictions to apply to what comes out in total.

So if there are four nozzles, no more than 2.5 gallons total should come out between all four. The new proposal Wednesday would allow each nozzle to spray as much as 2.5 gallons, not just the overall showerhead.

With four or five or more nozzles, “you could have 10, 15 gallons per minute powering out of the showerhead, literally probably washing you out of the bathroom,” Andrew deLaski, executive director of the energy conservation group Appliance Standards Awareness Project, told the AP.

DeLaski and officials at Consumer Reports said there’s been no public outcry or need for change. The Department of Energy’s own database of 12,499 showerheads showed 74% of them use two gallons or less water per minute, which is 20% less than the federal standard.

“Frankly it’s silly,” deLaski said. “The country faces serious problems. We’ve got a pandemic, serious long-term drought throughout much of the West. We’ve got global climate change. Showerheads aren’t one of our problems.”

“If the president needs help finding a good shower, we can point him to some great consumer websites that help you identify a good showerhead that provides a dense soak and a good shower,” deLaski said.

Why do we have these regulations?

Two big reasons: To help lower utility bills -- and to conserve water.

According to the EPA, the average family could save 2,700 gallons per year by installing WaterSense labeled showerheads. Since these water savings will reduce demands on water heaters, they will also save energy. In fact, the average family could save more than 330 kilowatt hours of electricity annually, enough to power a house for 11 days.

On a national scale, if every home in the United States installed WaterSense labeled showerheads, we could save more than $2.9 billion in water utility bills and more than 260 billion gallons of water annually. In addition, we could avoid about $2.5 billion in energy costs for heating water.

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Appliance and plumbing energy and water conservation standards save consumers about $500 a year on energy bills, deLaski said.

Showering is one of the leading ways we use water in the home, accounting for nearly 17 percent of residential indoor water use—for the average family, that adds up to nearly 40 gallons per day.

Regulations were put in place in 1992 as a part of the U.S. Energy Policy Act. It set minimum efficiency standards for toilets, faucets, urinals, and showers. It was signed into law by President George Bush.

In order to earn the EPA’s WaterSense certification a shower head must use 2.0 gpm or less. Some of the new low flow heads are rated at even lower flow rates, such as 1.8 or 1.5 gpm, saving significantly more water.

The Trump administration argues the 2013 Obama definition is too bureaucratic, saying Americans have the right to choose any kind of showerhead they want.

If you want to read about the proposed new showerhead rules, see below:

About the Author:

Ken Haddad is the digital content and audience manager for WDIV / ClickOnDetroit.com. He also authors the Morning Report Newsletter and various other newsletters. He's been with WDIV since 2013. He enjoys suffering through Lions games on Sundays in the fall.