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Distorting federal showerhead standards is wasteful and unnecessary

Showerhead standards are saving consumers money on water and heating while meeting their needs

WASHINGTON — The Department of Energy (DOE) is proposing a rule that would distort the definition of “showerhead” in a way that could cause a big increase in wasted water and energy, and lead to higher utility bills for consumers.

“There is absolutely no need to change current showerhead standards,” says David Friedman, Vice President of Advocacy at Consumer Reports, and a former acting assistant secretary for the Department of Energy. “Thanks to the standards, consumers have access to showerheads that not only score well on CR tests and achieve high levels of customer satisfaction, but also save consumers money by reducing energy and water consumption.” 

Consumer Reports last did a thorough test of showerheads on the market in 2016, and found that “the best showerheads we tested provided a pleasing flow while meeting the federal flow-rate standard.” Those federal standards were established in 2013. Other CR findings:

  • Consumers have a wide variety of high performing showerhead options that meet the federal standards across a range of price points.
  • The second-highest rated showerhead in CR testing costs only $20 and meets federal standards for water usage.
  • Two high efficiency showerheads that meet EPA’s watersense requirements recieved the CR “recommended” rating while achieving very good ratings for shower feel. Both can be purchased for $50 or less.

The diagram below, provided by DOE, shows showerheads with multiple nozzles. Manufacturers are required to limit water flow to 2.5 gallons of water per minute (gpm) for the entire device, as opposed to each individual nozzle. The proposed change by DOE would allow manufacturers to consider each nozzle its own “showerhead,” which goes against the purpose and spirit of the law, says Friedman, and could easily lead to a lot of wasted water and energy use.

Image provided by Energy.gov

Image provided by Energy.gov



Adam Winer