Did you know that during an average 8-minute shower you’re using over 17 gallons of water? In total, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that more than 1.2 trillion gallons of water are used throughout the country for showers every year!
While those long showers with high-pressure heads might feel great, you’ll be paying for them with hundreds of extra dollars on your water bill!
Luckily, the best low flow shower head can help you manage your water consumption. These unique fixtures are equipped with special water-saving regulators. As a result, you can get that spa-like experience without all of the waste.
Check our buying guide and recommended tips below to find an eco-friendly shower head that works for you and your family.
What Is a Low Flow Shower Head?
A low flow shower head is a specially designed fixture that’s meant to help you cut back on your home’s overall water consumption. For most homes, showers represent approximately 17 percent of your annual usage.
Imagine how much you could save if that figure was lower.
In the old days, there weren’t very many standards on how much water your fixtures could or couldn’t use in the United States. However, that all changed with the passage of the Energy Policy Act of 1992.
With this act, a new shower standard was established. It’s still upheld today. Shower heads must use no more than 2.5 gallons per minute at 80 psi. That standard alone has done a lot to reduce the environmental impact of showers and help Americans save money. Considering that older shower heads could use 5 gallons or more every minute, this was a great step in the right direction.
However, there’s more that could still be done. That’s where low flow shower heads come in.
These fixtures take water conservation efforts to a new level. Instead of using the standard 2.5 GPM, most of these models will have a flow rate of 2.0 GPM or less. Shower heads that use 2 gallons or less per minute meet the EPA’s WaterSensestandards and are usually labeled as such.
How Do Low Flow Shower Heads Save Water?
These fixtures can help you save water in a couple of different ways. The primary goal is to restrict water flow from the standard 2.5 gallons a minute to something less. Most aim for somewhere between 1.5 GPM to 2.0 GPM.
This is done with a flow regulator. Often referred to as a flow restrictor, these small components are built into the shower and automatically reduce the flow coming out of your pipes.
So, does that mean your shower experience is sacrificed?
I’m happy to tell you that most manufacturers include additional features to make up for that low flow rate.
Aeration techniques are pretty common. Before the water makes it out of the shower head, it’s infused with water. This does a couple of different things. One, it naturally increases the water pressure. All of that extra air creates a buildup pressure, blasting the water out as you shower. It’s a great way to overcome pressure issues created by the low flow.
Another big perk is that aeration feels great on the stream. Typically, high-pressure showers will blast water in tiny droplets or streams. This can produce a bit of a stinging sensation for some. With aeration, the water comes out in soft air-filled bubbles!
Beyond aeration, manufacturers can also use the principles of laminar flow to make up for lost pressure. Essentially, the shower head is designed to separate the water into many smaller streams. This distills the water while increasing its pressure. Not only that, but the small streams can cover more surface area without needing more water.
Why Upgrade To a Low Flow Shower Head?
More and more people are making the switch to low flow shower heads. These shower fixtures offer several great benefits that you just can’t ignore.
One of the biggest reasons why you should make the switch is that a low flow shower head can help you save money in the long run. While saving half a gallon of water per minute might not seem like a lot, you’d be surprised at how much this reduces your annual water consumption.
The EPA estimates that a low flow shower head can help families save about 2,900 gallons of water every year! That alone can dramatically reduce your annual water costs.
But, it doesn’t stop there. It’s not just water that’s being wasted. Think about how much energy you use when you take a shower.
An electric water heater amounts to more than 40 percent of your home’s hot water energy. Water heaters are not cheap to run. For the average home, a water heater adds over 700 dollars to your electric bill every year!
The best way to reduce those energy costs is to use less water. Yet again, low flow shower heads come to the rescue!
Overall, low flow shower heads can provide you with savings in more areas than one. They reduce your home’s water consumption by as much as 40 percent every year, which translates to savings in your energy bill. Plus, they can help you reduce your overall carbon footprint. You can’t go wrong!
How to Choose a Low Flow Shower Head That’s Right For You
There’s no shortage of good low flow shower heads on the market today. Most of the big-name fixture brands have WaterSense-certified options for you to choose from. Before you jump the gun and get the first water-saving model you see, here are some things to consider.
The flow rate refers to how much water is traveling through the shower head every minute. As we mentioned earlier, most low flow shower heads aim for a GPM rating of 2.0 or less.
Look out for that WaterSense seal of approval. It indicates that the shower head meets that standard.
Next up, what type of shower experience do you prefer? The spray settings on a shower head can provide you with a simple shower or create a spa-like setting for you to relax.
Many fixtures have multiple spray settings, allowing you to choose one based on your needs. For example, power spray settings and pulsating massages are perfect after a long day of work. The pressure applied to your body can soothe aching muscles.
If you’d rather keep things light, you can also get a shower head with mist or rain settings. These are lighter alternatives to the standard spray setting that feel good on the skin.
When it comes to design, you have several options to choose from. Shower heads come in a wide variety of shapes to suit anyone’s needs.
Rain shower heads are considerably larger than standard fixtures. They’re designed to cover a large surface area and provide a relaxing atmosphere. Most rain shower heads use up a lot of water. However, low flow models do exist. Usually, they take advantage of laminar flow to provide the same benefits without increasing water consumption.
Handheld shower heads are another good option. Perfect for kids, seniors, and anyone who wants a bit more control, these shower heads can be installed in most showers without any issues. They feature long hoses that help you direct water how you want. When you want that traditional shower experience, most also come with wall brackets.
Material and Finish
Last, but not least, you should think about the material and finish. These two considerations will have a huge effect on how your shower looks.
You can find fixtures in a wide range of materials. The most common is plastic. It’s cheap and can be treated to take on a plethora of finishes. Many manufacturers even cover their plastic fixtures in faux chrome to make it look like metal.
Plastic is great when it comes to maintenance. The material is relatively easy to clean. Plus, it’s more cost-effective! The downside is that they don’t last nearly as long as metal.
Metal shower heads are a worthy investment. They can be made from corrosion-resistant materials like bronze. Unique finishes are available as well. You can find something shiny and modern or go with a fixture with an aged look. Either way, metal fixtures are tough and built to last.
5 of the Best Low Flow Shower Heads
High Sierra’s All Metal Low Flow Shower Head
If you’re on the hunt for a no-frills shower head, this model may be for you. It’s a simple fixture that doesn’t have a ton of extras to worry about. For example, there’s only one spray pattern available. With that said, this simplicity is the shower head’s strongest feature.
You can install this product in only a few minutes. Plus, its simplistic design makes it look great in any shower.
Don’t let the simple looks fool you. This thing is built tough. It’s made out of solid metal. The manufacturer offers the fixture in a handful of finishes, but each one uses the same core material and impressive construction quality.
From a performance standpoint, this shower head is impressive. It only uses 1.5 gallons of water per minute. However, it produces very high water pressure. This is achievable thanks to strategic design. When you turn your shower on, water must flow through a very tiny hole before it escapes the shower head. This builds up pressure and makes the unit feel like it’s using much more water than it actually is.
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- Only uses 1.5 GPM
- Tough metal construction
- Available in multiple finishes
- Creates a lot of pressure
- Very easy to install
- May be uncomfortable to use for some
- Can be loud
High Sierra’s Solid Metal Handheld Shower Head Kit
Here’s another great fixture from High Sierra Showerheads. Like the previous model, this product is capable of producing impressive water pressure levels. It uses the same pressure buildup system, ensuring that you’re getting the experience you want without wasting water.
This is a handheld shower. So, it comes with a diverter and hose. The diverter is made out of solid brass. You can attach it to your existing shower pipe. On the bottom of the diverter is where you attach the 72-inch metal hose.
The diverter does double-duty as a holder as well. You can slip the handheld unit onto the holder to get a traditional shower experience.
The cool thing about this fixture is that it’s incredibly compact. Like the traditional low flow shower head from High Sierra Showerheads, it’s small and easy to adjust. The head sits on a ball joint, allowing you to get the perfect angle even in handheld mode.
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- Available with GPM as low as 1.5
- Solid metal construction
- Includes metal hose and wall holder
- Powerful pressure
- Adjustable spray angle
- Comes in multiple finishes
- Produces a lot of noise
- May be too powerful for some
Speakman S-4002-E15 The Reaction Shower Head
Check out this unique shower head from Speakman. It’s a low flow model that uses aeration techniques to improve pressure.
Hidden within the showerhead housing is a small water turbine. The natural water pressure from your pipes works to turn the turbine at a very fast rate. There’s no need to connect the showerhead to an external power source.
As the turbine spins, it chops the water stream. This helps to infuse the water droplets with air. It’s a simple concept that produces some impressive results. The water feels more comfortable and intense. Despite only using 1.5 gallons per minute, the aeration process makes it feel like much more.
While there aren’t multiple spray settings to choose from, the turbine does create a light pulsating effect. It’s comfortable on the skin, making it easy to get that spa-like experience.
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- Uses only 1.5 GPM
- Aerates water
- Pulsating spray pattern
- Colorful plastic frame
- Easy to install
- Head position can’t be adjusted
- Not as powerful as other options
Waterpik Hand Held Low Flow Shower Head
From Waterpik is this handheld shower head. It uses approximately 1.6 gallons of water per minute, helping you reduce your overall consumption. However, that low flow rate does not affect the shower experience.
The handheld unit has 3 different spray settings. The face of the shower head features an adjustable plate. With the flip of your finger, you can move through the various settings until you find one that’s just right.
One cool thing about this shower head is the built-in “trickle” setting. Basically, this feature is designed to help you cut back on water waste by reducing the flow even further. Just press the button whenever you’re lathering up and not actively using water. This reduces the flow to a mere trickle until you’re ready to rinse off.
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- Uses only 1.6 GPM
- Contoured fixture
- Comes with 5-foot hose and bracket
- 3 spray settings
- Unique trickle setting
- Many plastic components
- Low-quality hose
Delta 52655 Water-Efficient Shower Head
Delta is known for coming up with some great bathroom innovations. This unique shower head is a great example of the brand’s creative spirit.
It’s a low flow shower head that only uses 1.5 gallons every minute. While it may look very simple, the head is hiding some quirky secrets. Inside the head, water flows through highly engineered water channels.
These channels serve a couple of different purposes. First, it maximizes water pressure. This allows you to get a high-pressure feel without wasting water. Secondly, the channels create a distinct oscillating spray pattern.
Once the water exits the head, it comes out in waves. The waves increase the coverage area of the water stream while giving you a nice little massage. Delta calls this feature H2Okinetic technology.
Overall, the shower head offers a comfortable shower experience. Thanks to the H2Okinetic feature, it manages to provide a high-pressure experience while only using a fraction of the water that other premium fixtures do.
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- Uses only 1.5 GPM
- H2Okinetic technology
- Massaging spray pattern
- Provides good water pressure
- Comes with a lifestime warranty
- Made out of plastic
- Might be too intense for some
You don’t have to use a ton of water to get clean. Low flow shower heads are feats of engineering that help you save our planet’s most precious resource.
All of your recommended picks can help you cut back on your consumption and ultimately save money. With that said, we believe that the low flow fixture from High Sierra Showerheads is the one to beat!
The shower head looks very simple. But, it’s fully capable of creating a very powerful stream of water. It only uses 1.5 gallons per minute, but the water pressure it produces beats out every other product on the list.
While the Speakman and Delta shower heads use some innovative technology to make the water feel more intense, High Sierra Showerhead engineered its product to increase pressure naturally. There are no complicated components or moving parts. Just old-fashioned physics.
All in all, the High Sierra low flow shower head has it all. It’s made out of solid metal, comes in a couple of different finishes to suit your style, and uses the best method to increase pressure while reducing the flow rate. The shower head is a must-have for anyone who is looking to save water without sacrificing comfort.