Save Money With a Low Flow Showerhead

September 10, 2017

We love saving money. Everyone loves saving money. But many people neglect the simple adjustments which can save a lot of money over time. We’ll look at one today – the low flow showerhead.

As you might know, we bought the Niagara 1.25 GPM showerhead a week ago and documented it in our annual budget report. We’ve been impressed by the quality for such a low price. Water pressure is excellent and it’s tough to notice the decrease in water volume.

According to the math below, you’ll recoup the purchase price in less than one month.

Water savings:

To begin, I’ll have to estimate your water usage. I’ll try to stay conservative on the numbers but it’s tough to please everyone. In addition, I’ll use the 2.5 Gallon Per Minute (GPM) showerhead to calculate totals. It seems like the 2.5 GPM heads are widely used and older models have even higher usage.

I’ll assume you take 25 showers over the course of a 30-day period and that your average shower lasts 8 minutes. Here we go:

Traditional 2.5 GPM showerhead:
25 showers at 8 minutes each means that you will shower 200 minutes each month. Multiplying 200 minutes by the 2.5 gallons-per-minute flow rate, you will use about 500 gallons of water each month.

Niagara Low-flow 1.25 GPM showerhead:
Continuing the math. Multiplying 200 minutes by the 1.25 gallons-per-minute flow rate, you will use about 250 gallons of water each month. You’ve just cut usage in half.

Now lets look at the yearly totals.

  • With a traditional, 2.5 GPM showerhead, you’ll use 6,000 gallons of water per year.
  • With a 1.25 GPM, low-flow showerhead, you’ll use 3,000 gallons of water per year.

So for us as a couple, we’ll save 6,000 gallons per year (3,000 x 2). Adjusting for inflation and basing my cost on this 2004 article, I’ll estimate water at $2.25 per 1,000 gallons.

We will save $13.50 this year in water alone.

Heating Savings

Calculating the cost to heat the water requires a little more work so I’ll draw from a trust source – the Ask Mr. Electricity site:

“Energy required to heat a tank of water

  • A Btu, or British thermal unit, is the amount of energy needed to raise one pound of water from 60°F to 61°F at sea level.(Wikipedia)
  • A gallon of water weighs 8.33 lbs.
  • If the incoming water is 60°F and we want to raise it to 123°F, that’s a 63°F rise.
  • Heating a gallon of water thus requires 8.33 x 63 = 525 Btu’s, at 100% efficiency.

Cost to heat water in a gas tank

  • A typical gas tank water heater is only 59% efficient. So it takes 525 ÷ 59% = 890 Btu’s to heat a gallon of water in a gas tank.
  • One therm is 100,000 btu’s. So one Btu is 0.00001 therms.(Pacific NW Natl. Lab.)
  • 890 Btu’s is 0.0089 therms.
  • So we’ve got 0.0089 therms to heat a gallon of water, or 0.0089 x 40 = 0.356 therms to heat a 40-gallon tank.
  • At $1.42/therm, it costs 0.356 x $1.42 = $0.51 to heat a 40-gallon tank.
  • Another source comes up with a similar figure: 0.40 therms for the tank (based on 0.11 therms to heat 11 gallons of water. (Multi-housing Laundry Association)
  • MHLA also says it takes 3.3 therms to keep 11 gallons hot for one month.

Cost to heat water in an electric tank

  • A typical electric water heater is 90.4 to 95% efficient. Let’s call that 92.7% on average.
  • So it takes 525 ÷ 92.7% = 566 Btu’s to heat a gallon of water in an electric tank.
  • One kWh is 3413 Btu’s, so one Btu is 0.000293 kWh.
  • 566 Btu’s x 0.000293 kWh/Btu = 0.166 kWh.
  • So we’ve got 0.166 kWh to heat a gallon of water, or 0.166 x 40 = 6.63 kWh to heat a 40-gallon tank.
  • At $0.11/kWh, it costs 6.63 x $0.11 = $0.73 to heat a 40-gallon tank.”

For a close middle point, we’ll use an estimate of 1.5 cents/gallon for heating costs. This will vary depending if you have an electric or gas water heater, it’s efficiency rating, and the local cost of gas/electricity.

So 6,000 gallons of water multiplied by 1.5 cents/gallon means we’ll save roughly $90 per year in heating costs.

That’s over $100 per year from a single shower and 2 individuals!

Yes, these are rough estimates. Yes, they are too simplistic for most real world applications. But I think they prove my case.

Everyone should purchase a low-flow showerhead for each shower, and a low-flow faucet aerator for for each sink.

Let me know if the numbers make sense to you. Have you made the switch yet?

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

45 Comments on "Save Money With a Low Flow Showerhead"

avatar
Bill cutter
Bill cutter

In L A and n y
Water and sewage rates are 12.00 a 1000
Gals add hot water saving /energy
12.00 w and s ewage plus 15..00 energy
that 27.00 a. 1000
Gals
Yearly savings are way over 100.00 a year
Needless to say their is not
another product that comes close
to this .
I use the Niagara earth 1.25
you wouldn’t know it was a
Low flow
Best showerhead ever
Bill

Matt Mecham
Matt Mecham
Hi Jacob. I have been wanting to change my shower heads to low-flow, and will be doing that soon. The savings will be nice, but granted, they probably aren’t enough to turn to many heads. So, let’s couple this idea of saving money by using less water, with helping out the environment by using less water. I live in the desert (southern Utah), and water is a very precious resource. The less I have flowing down the drain, the more I am able to help the community as a whole. Now, if we could just get rid of even half… Read more »
Cindy Hoffman
Cindy Hoffman

Hi there Jacob, those are some great money saving tips which are easy to implement. I have been so keen on the crazy bills that I have been receiving lately. For some reason the graph of spending seems to be inclining month after the other and I think its time i do something about it. I believe that I can easily make some tweaks on water saving and also air conditioning and heating. Thanks a lot for sharing this with us.

Cindy

Liz Armeson
Liz Armeson

Wow, I had no idea something as small as replacing your shower head could have a such a huge impact! Is there a noticeable difference when using the low-flow head? Can you tell that the pressure is lower or anything? I’ll have to look into that, because that savings is nothing to sneeze at. Thanks so much for writing!

Jennifer
Jennifer

You certainly researched this! That is very impressive and makes a great case. You really don’t have to sacrifice your shower experience to save a little cash. And there are so many of these low flow shower heads available on the market now that surely there is one for everyone. Thanks for your more detailed post!

Veronika Dalton
Veronika Dalton

I just bought a low flow showerhead off Amazon after reading this post. We’re trying to save some money on our utilities while we save up to invest in some solar panels. I can’t wait to see how this affects our bills!

bryan flake
bryan flake

I have a disabled son that sits on the shower floor when he bathe’s. It would be convenient to put in one of those shower heads that is connected to a hose for manual movement of the shower head. Would such a shower head change the water pressure in the shower?

Roger
Roger

This is some great information. I am surprised by the fact that so many home owners don’t know how they can save money by making small adjustments / changes. Enjoyed the article.

Jack White
Jack White

That is really crazy that we waste that much water when we shower each month. 500 gallons could be saved for a lot better stuff. I think I might have to get that low flowing shower head to not waste anything. It should save me a couple of bucks.

Melanie @ Pick My Shower
Melanie @ Pick My Shower

Some newer shower heads mix water with air to increase the pressure and save the water bills at the end of each month. I have been told that they never lack the much needed water pressure and that they can provide more spray coverage than usual “water saving” shower heads. Any thoughts on that?

Andrew
Andrew

Now you’ve made me curious about how much we’re using and paying. Well, I know how much we’re paying but haven’t done the math lately on our usage etc. you may have inspired a post

Tammy Best
Tammy Best

The cost depends on where you live. Water cost more here in California. So I switched to a high pressure low flow shower head. I love it and it save money too!

Johnny
Johnny

I didn’t know that the shower head could have so much affect on my water bill. Saving $100 dollars a year would be a great thing. However, I do worry about how comfortable the shower is with a low flow faucet. If it is pretty much the same then the decision is a no brainier.

Jess @ A Plumbers Daughter
Jess @ A Plumbers Daughter

Wow you did your research! That’s very impressive and makes a great case. You really don’t have to sacrifice your shower experience to save some money. And there are so many of these low flow shower heads available now that surely there is one for everyone. Thanks for your detailed post!

Garry
Garry

Hello, Neat post. There is an issue together with your web site in web explorer, might check this?
IE nonetheless is the marketplace chief and a big portion of other people will pass over your wonderful writing due to this problem.

My blog – bed bugs come from where *Garry*

Sharon
Sharon

I like the estimate on the savings. First, I’m going to have to ask people in my house to cut down on their shower time. LOL. But, the idea of being able to save with the near fact of just switching shower heads sounds like a winner to me. I need another shower head in my bathroom anyway. It’s amazing the savings you can have by making a couple of simple changes in your home.

wpDiscuz