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Water-Efficient Showerheads

Delta Faucet Company offers residential water-efficient showerheads with H2Okinetic Technology that use only 1.5 gallons per minute yet deliver a satisfying shower… Read more
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  • With energy-consuming equipment, such as water heaters and refrigerators, we have good data on energy consumption and can set clear standards accordingly. In some product categories—clothes washers, for example—Energy Star standards were adopted because those standards provide a high enough threshold to represent just the very top segment of the product market (less than 10%). In other product categories—e.g., refrigerators and dishwashers—we set a higher threshold than ENERGY STAR: for example, exceeding those standards by 10% or 20%. With lighting and lighting control equipment, certain generic products qualify, such as compact fluorescent lamps and occupancy/daylighting controls, while in other categories only a subset of products qualify. In some cases, products that meet the energy efficiency requirements are excluded, because of evidence of poor performance or durability. Microturbines are included here because of the potential for cogeneration (combined heat and power) that they offer.

  • All toilets and most showerheads today meet the federal water-efficiency standards, but not all of these products perform satisfactorily. With toilets and showerheads, we include products that meet or exceed WaterSense standards, which includes performance requirements—although we go beyond WaterSense where there are issues not adequately addressed by the program. We also look for other products that conserve potable water, such as rainwater catchment and graywater recovery and reuse systems.

Brent Ehrlich
Products Editor

Delta Faucet Company offers residential water-efficient showerheads with H2Okinetic Technology that use only 1.5 gallons per minute yet deliver a satisfying shower. The showerhead provides 36% water savings over standard 2.5 gpm showerheads; this saves both water and energy (for heating water). The showerhead produces water droplets that are fairly large, resulting in good heat retention and body wetting. Most low-flow showerheads either create very small droplets or aerate the water.

Showers account for about 17% of all indoor residential water use, according to the EPA. Inefficient showerheads increase water and energy use, but some newer low-flow units have been faulted for delivering poor performance, leading people to spend more time in the shower, or remove the showerhead and replace it with an older, much higher-flow showerhead.



WaterSense has developed a specification that includes water efficiency, spray force, and spray coverage criteria. The first criterion is designed to reduce water use; the last two are aimed at maintaining a standard for superior shower performance, even as less water is being used. After doing field research in 2008, WaterSense developed tests that measure performance in spray force and spray coverage. Not directly included in the WaterSense criteria is “wetting performance” (though spray coverage could be a proxy for that) and “heat retention,” which is a function of droplet size. Showerheads that atomize water into very small droplets cool off very quickly, though atomizing showerheads may or may not satisfy the “spray force” requirement in WaterSense.

GreenSpec lists showerheads that use no more than 1.75 gallons per minute (gpm)—below WaterSense’s limit of 2 gpm—and are WaterSense labeled to address spray force and coverage

Shower satisfaction is a complex and highly variable user experience, much like thermal comfort. Including the spray force and coverage criteria is a good start, but look for additional or improved engineering and metrics as this field matures.

LEED Credits

WEc1: Water Use Reduction

WEc3: Water Use Reduction

WEc3.1-3.2: Water Use Reduction

WEp1: Water Use Reduction—20% Reduction

WEp1: Minimum Indoor Plumbing Fixture and Fitting Efficiency

WEp1: Water Use Reduction

Ratings and Commentary

1.6 gpm? or 2.5

A check of the Delta website indicates that the "body spray" is 1.6 gpm but that the shower head is 2.5. Am I missing something?http://www.deltafaucet.com/wps/portal/deltacom/BathFeatures/H2OKinetic

If I'm correct that means you could design a shower that uses too much water and make it less bad than it would otherwise be, but it doesn't mean you can get a shower head that uses 36% less water. Again, am I missing something at the Delta website? Bill Burke

1.6 gpm? or 2.5

I can understand Bill’s confusion since the H2OKinetic web page explains/displays the body spray feature but not the showerhead. But if you do a little digging you will find Delta does have two showerhead models that are 1.6 gpm, the RP46384 and RP51032 (http://www.deltafaucet.com/wps/portal/deltacom/kcxml/04_Sj9SPykssy0xPLMnMz0vM0Y_QjzKLN7SMN_F1AskB2RbxJl4G-pFooubxYY7oggHxZk5IYkH63vq-Hvm5qfoB-gW5oaER5Y6KAB-_-lg!/delta/base64xml/L3dJdyEvd0ZNQUFzQUMvNElVRS82X1BfMlFP. ) One of our editors has one of these and measured the flow at 1.6 gpm and not 2.5 gpm. The site also does not make it clear that the showerhead and body spray units are 1.6 gpm each, so if you use them together, as most people probably would, you would be using a whopping 3.2 gpm (Note, we only list the showerhead and not the body spray feature.) Hope this helps clarify the gpm. Hopefully Delta will make the information on their website a little clearer.

Delta 1.6 gpm showerhead

Thanks to EBN I found the 1.6 gpm showerhead. Delta certainly does a good job of hiding it on their website!

I've purchased two of the showerheads for installation at a swimming and boating club on San Francisco Bay. The plan is to install one in the men's shower and one in the women's to evaluate them and, if accepted by members, to replace all of the showerheads with the Delta unit. I don't plan on telling anyone (except my compatriots on the club's building committee who approved this) that these are 1.6 gpm heads beforehand. I will install them next weekend and will report back in a few months on their acceptance. Our hope is that these will be accepted and that as a result we'll significantly reduce not only water use but gas use associated with water heating. Bill Burke

Delta 1.6 gpm showerhead update

As mentioned below, I installed the Delta head and a number of other 1.6 gpm heads, leaving one 'high-flow' head in each locker room. The eventual outcome was that many members of the swimming and boating club complained vociferously. At the request of the Club's Board of Directors, I removed 5 of the 8 1.6 gpm heads and reinstalled the heads that had been in use previously. I, personally, am quite happy with the Delta head and find it a good product. It has worked flawlessly.

I think the problem is that a remarkable number of people I spoke with at the club insist there really is no shortage of water and don't see water conservation as important. They just want a shower that provides a high flow of water.

I also installed the American Standard FloWise 3 head, which defaults to 1.6 gpm when turned off, but permits you to increase the flow to 2.0 gpm. I found that to also be an excellent shower head.

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