Home Building Articles
Water Saving Faucets
October 27, 2009
Low-flow faucets and showerheads sound like they deliver low water pressure, but
that's not too appealing to a homeowner who's working at the kitchen sink or trying
to start off the day with an invigorating shower. In actuality, good low-flow or
water-saving faucets and showerheads deliver what feels like full-volume water.
They provide equal or better performance than conventional fixtures, while saving
water costs, water heating costs, sewage costs, and more.
A conventional showerhead is rated to use 3 to 7 gallons per minute (gpm) at normal
water pressure (80 psi). At these rates, a 5-minute shower uses 15 to 35 gallons
of water. In contrast, a 5-minute shower with a water saving showerhead that delivers
1.0 to 2.5 gpm consumes only 5 to 12.5 gallons of water. How is this possible without
reduced performance for the homeowner?
Low-flow showerheads that are designed to federal standards (2.5 gpm at 80 psi)
typically incorporate a narrower spray area and a greater mix of air and water than
conventional showerheads. As a result, the showerhead uses less water, yet the homeowner
perceives no difference in quality or comfort. Features of these low-flow showerheads
include: atomizers that deliver water in small but abundant droplets to cover larger
surface areas; pulsators that vary spray patterns with pauses between spurts or
by pulsating between strong flow and light mist; and aerators that mix water droplets
with air to cover the desired surface area. In addition, flow regulators on the
shower controls can reduce or stop the water flow when the homeowner is shampooing
Low-flow faucets designed to federal standards (2.5 gpm at 80 psi) use sensors,
as well as aerators, to reduce water consumption while maintaining comfort levels.
Homeowners can select from several new low-flow faucet technologies for kitchens
and baths, including a metered-valve faucet that delivers 0.25 gallons of water
and then automatically shuts off. Self-closing faucets are spring-loaded to shut
off the faucet a few seconds after the user turns it on. Ultrasonic, or infrared-sensor,
faucets automatically activate the water flow when hands are detected beneath it,
and automatically shut off the water when the hands are removed. Foot controls allow
homeowners to activate a faucet at a set temperature by tapping their foot to a
pedal. Finally, a simple and inexpensive retrofit for a conventional faucet is replacing
the screw-in tip of the faucet with an aerator.