5 Things You Want in a Shower Head, 3 Things You Do Not

by Don Ames,   www.detectenergy.com

When I am at a residence in the middle of a Home Energy Audit and it is time to clock the flow of water at the shower nozzle in the master bathroom, I always feel like I am getting a little too personal. Have the people found what is the best shower head or are they using a gully washer of an energy waster. Have these people ever asked themselves, What is the best shower head?

At these times, I feel like I am invading the household inner sanctuary, not just a shower, but more of a baptismal. This may be the place where a bunch of hot water is wasted, but it is also the place where people waste water when they are naked.

To most people, I can only assume that the best shower head is one that can wash a soap sud of the forehead faster than a Texas flash flood. But, at what expense? Water is everywhere, ( except parts of Texas ) so what can it hurt to use a little extra water for the short time a person is in the shower. Water is simply not that expensive.

Tell me, when your looking for the Best Shower Head, are you looking for a Shower Head to take a hot shower with or a cold shower? You understand, there is more at stake here than just water. Cold water and hot water are two items that are not equal on the energy scale.

Cold water comes from a water pump. Either you own the pump or the City or water district owns the pump. You pay for the pumping. When you use warm water, you again pay for the pumping, but you also pay for heating and for storing hot water. Believe it or not, storing hot water can be expensive.

Shower Tower Special

So, when your shopping for a shower head, don’t shop for one like you take showers in cold water, be truthful, shop for one like you’re actually going to use hot water in the shower. Now, don’t be bashful, I know the shower is in the master bath and you have your special shampoo and your boom box sitting on the counter playing old Beatles tunes, but the rain bird shower head that pumps out 6 gallons of stored hot water every minute is not the thing you want your neighbors knowing about.

What is the Best Shower Head?

The best shower head will have these features. And let me tell you, this recommendation comes from a person with years of showering experience in a multitude of showering locations. When it comes to shower heads, I have seen them all.

1. Handheld with a hose.

You don’t have to be in a wheel chair to enjoy the flexibility of a handheld shower head. Having trouble getting the soap off the back of the knee, place the spray where it’s needed the most.

2. Shut off valve, flow interrupter, or pause valve.

Some shower heads have these built right in. You can shut the flow of water off for a minute and then turn it right back on to the same temperature setting. P.S. a nozzle shut off valve is suppose to leak a little, it’s the plumbing law.

3. Single Flow Setting

Just one flow setting, that’s all you need. Keep it basic. No use paying for a rain forest mist setting if your never going to use it.

4. Luminar Flow

This means the water coming from the head is all water and not infused with air. The air models are suppose to make the flow seem stronger, but the air can cool the water before it hits your soapy backside.

5. Low Flow Rating

Today the standard flow is 2.5 gallons per minute. You can save 30% by going with the 1.75 gpm model. If 1.75 gpm has trouble getting the shampoo out of your hair, cut your hair.

Huge Flow, Huge Bill

Considering the Best Shower Head, here’s a few shower head features you don’t want.

1. Twelve different flow settings.

By the time you try them all, you’ll be late for work. The novelty wears off real soon and out of the twelve settings, it might be none of them work real well.

2. Shower Tower Power

With this you will have about six nozzles, Two up high, two for the middle of the back and two for the thighs. Turn them on all at once and you could be going through about 10 gallons per minute. Install a shower tower and you will need to add a second water heater - now that’s energy efficient.

3. Aerating Shower ahead

By mixing air with water, these showerheads form a misty spray to make the flow feel more substantial. Might feel more substantial, but it’s just air and the air is cooling off the water temperature.

I’ll try to do better about feeling shy when I walk into a master bathroom with a gallon milk jug and a stopwatch. I hope you will do better about being concerned over the amount of water you use when your naked with the Beatles in your shower. Water may seem like a substance that will always make it’s way from the pumps to your house in plentiful amounts. But, let’s not forget about the millions of people that spend most of their day walking miles for a single gallon of water.

What is the best shower head? It’s the one that takes the most economical approach to producing and storing hot water.

Thanks for stopping by www.detectenergy.com, hope you will come back soon, but I won’t leave the light on for you...

More from Don Ames and Detect Energy at www.detectenergy.com

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Tags: conservation, energy, hot water, shower, shower head, water

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Comment by Don Hynek on July 23, 2012 at 10:53am

To up the ante just a little -- it's not always the case that cold water is cheap and hot water expensive. Pumping is electricity, and electricity is expensive and carbon-intensive. Most of the water for NYC comes from half a state away. It mostly runs downhill from the Adirondaks to sea level, but there are some massive pumping stations involved too. I think the extreme case might be southern California -- there are are some areas of California where a single cubic foot of water has one entire kWh of "embedded" electricity. In LA and San Diego, that water may have been pumped from the Colorado River over the Sieras and then down the entire length of the Central Valley. 

I don't remember the exact source for the CA study-- I know it's something I first heard about at the Asilomar "Summer Study on Buildings" conference. It might have been a paper at the 2008 conference.

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