Under Pressure: Do Water-Saving Showerheads Have Oomph?

Many people (though not enough) are willing to make considerable lifestyle adjustments to reduce their personal carbon footprint. But ask someone to change his or her showering habits in the name of the environment, and you will likely encounter some resistance. The fact is, there is something almost spiritual about a really good shower. The intensity of the water pressure, the reliable and consistent temperature, the wide coverage of the spray. Any mention of "water-saving" shower heads may conjure up images of standing under an anemic drizzle of lukewarm water.

But most showers really are big water wasters, with Americans taking showers in 20 gallons of water on most days, which uses both a lot of water and a ton of fuel to heat that water. While the 2.5-gallon-per-minute shower head has been the legal standard for a decade, consumers often remove flow restrictors, which takes minutes to do and gives a big boost to water flow. Others bypass the restrictions by installing multiple shower heads, creating a kind of "car wash" effect in the shower stall.

Some regions, especially those in drought-prone areas, have enacted stricter rules about water usage, of course. But what about the rest of us? Are there ways to take a "green" shower that will leave us invigorated instead of bitter?

Because it is hard to convince Americans to take less showers — or even shorter showers — companies have been busy developing new technologies to reduce water consumption without sabotaging water pressure. Some devices force air into the shower head, which aerates the water to maintain high pressure without as much water usage. The downside is that aerated shower heads may make hot water feel cooler, which could prompt you to use more hot water, driving up energy costs. Other devices save water by addressing that period of time you wait for your shower to warm up. The Evolve adaptor senses when the water is hot, then stops the water flow down to a trickle. When you're ready to get in, you pull a cord and water resumes.

We want to hear from you: Do you have a water-saving shower head? What brand is it? Are you satisfied? How's the pressure? Any changes to your bottom line?

For more information, see this article in the Wall Street Journal and this compilation of reviews from Consumer Search.

(Image: Wes & Kayla Schwartz/ Katin & Brandon's North Shore Cape)

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