The Average Shower Head Flow

Shower head flow can affect the quality of your shower experience as well as your water and heating bills. If you have a shower head that was installed before 1992, you don't have what is called a "low flow" fixture. Most shower heads are now considered low flow, and understanding the average shower head flow will help you appreciate the savings of today's more modern fixtures.

Flow Rates

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, fixtures that date pre-1992 had flow rates that are over double of what they are now. A flow rate is the amount of gallons of water that come out of a fixture per minute. Older fixtures flow on average about 5.5 gallons per minute (gpm). Today's shower heads have flow rates of less than 2.5 gpm.

Lowest Flow

Today, there are even fixtures that are known as poor-performing low-flow shower heads. A poor-performing shower head is one that have a 2.6 gpm. There are shower heads called ultra low-flows that are on the market. There is models that offer 1.5 gpm, and there are even models that offer 0.5 gpms that use a fraction of the water of any traditional or low-flow shower head. But any low-flow shower head is better than none at all.


Water usage adds up fast when showering. A typical four-minute shower with an older shower head uses about 20 gallons of water while a new shower head will use half as much hot water. Installing a low-flow shower head will save you up to about £94 a year on your electric bills because the amount of hot water is significantly reduced, according to Energy Star.


According to the U.S. Department of Energy, there are two types of low-flow shower heads. An aerating shower head mixes water coming from the head with air. A laminar-flow shower head produces individual streams of water that do not mix with air. Laminar-flow devices typically have a 1.5 to 2.2 gpm, according to Toolbase Services.

A Shower Head's Age

Determine the age of your shower head with this exercise suggested by the U.S. Department of Energy. Mark a bucket with gallon marks, place it under your shower head, turn it on and time how long it takes to reach the one-gallon mark. If the water level has reached the gallon mark in 20 seconds, you have an older, high-flow shower head. Replace the old model for a newer one that costs under £13 to realise valuable savings.

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About the Author

Marilyn Zelinsky-Syarto has been featured in dozens of national publications, television and radio programs fore more than 15 years. She specializes in DIY home decor projects, frugal living and interior design. Zelinsky-Syarto is the author and editor of award-winning design books and has worked for numerous national shelter magazines.