The old showerheads that we remember from 10 to 30 years ago that were given to us from numerous city, state, and private programs cost 99 cents each and were awful. So we understand if talk of low-flow showerheads makes you grimace and think, "No way." Back in the days — the early eighties to be exact — you had to shell out a pretty penny for the Consumer Reports-recommended WaterPic ShowerMassage if you wanted an actual good shower and reduced usage. Many years later, that’s still one of the best on the market, but the playing field has, thankfully, widened and improved.
F.L. Andrew Padian, a private energy and financial consultant with 35 years and more than 3,000 buildings of experience under his belt, knows. "I will admit to being tall and overweight, yet when I take a shower with my 1.5 gallon-per-minute showerhead, I get plenty wet. When I go to a hotel that has the tropical rain showerheads at 5 to 10 gallons per minute, it spills on the walls and floors, but not on me," he says.
The trick with any building-wide retrofit is to ask manufacturers for samples. Test five or ten showerheads around the building, give them to the people who have complained the most about their showers, and let them report back. The savings potential in a retrofit like this one is huge because low-flow showers also save hot water, and therefore, gas or oil.
In fact, adds Padian, you may be looking at a potential savings of $200.75 to $657 per apartment per year. That certainly sounds like its worth investing in some new and improved showerheads.
Adapted from "Water Remedies" by F.L. Andrew Padian (Habitat, April 2015).
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