Hack #1 — The Lowly Showerhead

July 27th, 2020 by  

Every month or so, we’ll profile a small lifestyle change, or cheap technological switch, that anyone can make to “Go Zero.” The goal is to highlight some of the low-cost and overlooked, yet extremely impactful, ways to save energy and money and fight climate change.  

Today’s Go Zero Hack involves the lowly showerhead. For a mere $30 and 5 minutes of install time, a water-saving showerhead offers more bang for your buck than most realize:

A low-flow showerhead ready to save you energy and money (courtesy Bricorps).

You save water. Showers are the second biggest users of water in the average home.  Efficient showerheads leave more water for fish and farming as well as save the energy it takes to pump water to your house.

You save energy. This is because heating water for a shower requires a lot of energy.  17% of a home’s energy use goes to heating water — 6% to showers specifically.

You prevent sewage from going into rivers. Less water going down the drain means less water to pump to the sewage treatment plant to treat and clean. It also means that during rain storms, when many sewers overflow into rivers (because they get too full), less raw sewage will go into waterways. Less water in sewers means less overflow in rivers during storms.

You save money. Around $100 per year per person in energy and water costs are saved.

What Your Old Showerhead is Costing You

The average showerhead in the US uses 2.1 gallons of water per minute. That equals 17 gallons of water per average 8 minute shower and a whopping 6,200 gallons per year — enough to fill a small pool.

To heat that water in a standard electric water heater (though, you should get a heat pump water heater ASAP), you’ll need about 1000 kilowatt-hours of electricity, which is about the amount of energy contained in 1000 pounds of coal. That will cost around $118 per person.

So, you’re probably spending close to $250, per person, per year, on showers.

With this Go Zero showerhead hack, you can cut your energy use and spending by 40% simply by switching out your showerhead for a more efficient one.

That translates to $100 of savings per person per year, plus 2,500 gallons of water and the energy equivalent of 400 pounds of coal. For my family of four, that means we’re saving $400 a year on showers alone.

But Wait, There’s More! 

In the past, some people (including Seinfeld) thought that a more efficient showerhead made for a poor showering experience.

No longer. Modern, efficient showerheads provide a deluxe showering experience, with sometimes half the water. You’ll likely notice no difference in shower quality, and many say it’s actually an improvement over what they had before.

This hack also works well for both homeowners and renters alike. Renters can replace the showerhead in their rental house or apartment (just store the original in case your landlord takes issue with the replacement when you move out) and benefit from lower energy and water bills.

Time to Go Zero

In many communities, you can receive discounted or free showerheads, or you can buy great ones at full price, usually for under $30. We use and highly recommend a brand called Bricor that has fantastic flow and is inexpensive. Nebia is a more deluxe option.

Whatever you purchase, we recommend a showerhead that uses 1.25 gallons per minute. It’s half the standard showerhead rate (2.5 gallons per minute) and you won’t notice a difference in your showering experience.

So, what are you waiting for? Go Zero. Replace your showerhead(s): save $100 per person at home, a pool full of water, and 400 lb of coal, every year, all while doing your part towards solving climate change today. 


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About the Author

lives in Portland, Oregon, and works for the nonprofit Forth, which promotes electric transportation. He is also involved with Electrify Now because he believes that electrifying everything, from transportation to homes, is the quickest path to an equitable, clean energy future. And of course, Joe and his family live in an all-electric home and drive an EV.

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