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How do low-flow shower heads work?

Before low-flow shower heads were introduced, the typical shower head provided approximately 6 to 7 gallons of water per minute at a water pressure of 36.3kg. per square inch (psi). The amount of water that comes out of a shower head is directly related to the amount of pressure, or psi, exerting force on it--the greater the psi, the more water will come out.

Low-flow shower heads manage to use less water than older shower heads by restricting the flow of the water while maintaining the water pressure at approximately 80 psi. Most low-flow shower heads on the market today deliver between 3 to 1.5 gallons per minute at the same pressure as older shower heads. Therefore, consumers are able to enjoy the same water pressure as in older models while conserving water.

Many low-flow shower heads also come with a shut-off valve (pushing a button activates the valve) to enable the consumer to save even more water by stopping the flow while soaping or shaving.

Function

Before low-flow shower heads were introduced, the typical shower head provided approximately 6 to 7 gallons of water per minute at a water pressure of 36.3kg. per square inch (psi). The amount of water that comes out of a shower head is directly related to the amount of pressure, or psi, exerting force on it--the greater the psi, the more water will come out.

Low-flow shower heads manage to use less water than older shower heads by restricting the flow of the water while maintaining the water pressure at approximately 80 psi. Most low-flow shower heads on the market today deliver between 3 to 1.5 gallons per minute at the same pressure as older shower heads. Therefore, consumers are able to enjoy the same water pressure as in older models while conserving water.

Many low-flow shower heads also come with a shut-off valve (pushing a button activates the valve) to enable the consumer to save even more water by stopping the flow while soaping or shaving.

Types

Low-flow shower heads can be either aerating or non-aerating shower heads. Both are available as hand-held or fixed models and both feature the same water pressure as in older shower heads, just with less water used.

Consumers favour the aerating, low-flow shower heads, mainly because these shower heads provide a full, even spray when turned on. They are called "aerating" because they work by mixing air into the stream of water, which helps the stream maintain a constant pressure.

Unlike the aerating, low-flow shower heads, the non-aerating, low-flow shower heads do not mix the water flow with air and, because of this, the water pressure fluctuates, resulting in a strong but pulsed flow. Non-aerating, low-flow shower heads keep water hotter than aerating shower heads because the water stream is not cooled by the addition of air.

Importance

Low-flow shower heads are important to consumers in two respects: first, replacing older shower heads with low-flow ones can reduce water and energy bills dramatically; second, the reduction of water consumption is an important step in water conservation and environmental awareness.

A family's water and electricity bill can drop by as much as 50 per cent after installing low-flow shower heads. Less water will be used and, because of that, less energy will be needed to heat the smaller amount of water used.

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About the Author

Michelle Kerns writes for a variety of print and online publications and specializes in literature and science topics. She has served as a book columnist since 2008 and is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. Kerns studied English literature and neurology at UC Davis.