Pros & Cons of Low Flow Shower Heads

Updated July 19, 2017

After a long day's work, there is nothing better than a hot shower. Traditional shower heads flow at an average rate of 5 to 8 gallons every minute, so a 10-minute shower uses up to 80 gallons of water. Low-flow shower heads use less than half that amount of water, but there are sacrifices that come with water preservation.

Pro: Reduced Water Usage

Low-flow shower heads use less water, making these bathroom fixtures easy on the environment. High-efficiency low-flow shower heads use as little as 1.6 gallons of water per minute. A 10-minute shower uses only 16 gallons of water compared to 80 gallons for some standard shower heads. Using less water has a direct impact on the environment and your utility bills. Look for low-flow shower heads with a pause system. The pause system allows the user to shut off water flow while washing hair, shaving legs and a variety of other reasons. When water flow returns, it is heated to the same temperature it was before hitting the pause button.

Pro: Reduced Electric/Gas Bill

Heating cold water to 48.9 degrees Celsius or more for a hot shower takes electricity or gas, depending on your hot water heater. Hot water heaters use electricity or natural gas to heat cold water to the temperature setting on the water heater, typically between 48.8 to 54.4 degrees C. Using less water means less electricity or gas is needed to heat water.

Con: Not All Low-Flow Shower Heads are the Same

Some low-flow shower heads claim to reduce water consumption, but the overall reduction is minimal. Any shower head using less than 5 gallons of water per minute, the lower end of the water usage for average shower heads, is considered low-flow. There is a huge difference between using 3 gallons and 1.6 gallons of water per minute. High-efficiency low-flow shower heads use less than 2 gallons of water per minute.

Con: Reduced Water Pressure

Some varieties of low-flow shower heads reduce water consumption by reducing the rate at which water flows through the shower head. Less water pressure could mean staying in the shower longer, negating the benefits of a low-flow shower head. Look for a low-flow shower head with tiny water holes. The smaller the hole, the less water used during a shower. These smaller holes also allow for increased pressure. Choose an adjustable low-flow shower head to change the flow and pattern of water.

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About the Author

Summer Banks is a medical assistant and senior health writer for several health-and-wellness websites. She learned about vitamins and supplements while working as a supervisor for a nutritional company. Banks has four years of nursing training from Shepherd University and Glenville State College. She started writing professionally in 2007.