Low Flow Shower Head Installed – Saving $162 per Year

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by Tim Fulton on February 17, 2010

This article was originally posted by one of our forum members, Ben Nelson:

Wow, I just crunched the numbers, and realized that I am now saving $162 per year, for about 5 minutes of work.

How is that possible?

Well, start with the “low-hanging fruit.”

Conserve as cheaply as possible whatever is most expensive. At my house, it’s waste water. Where I live, we have a well for our incoming water, but a “holding-tank” for waste water. That’s basically a buried tank in the backyard that all water from the toilet, sink, washer, shower, and any other drain in the house goes to. We live just down the street from a lake, and have a high enough water level that water actually oozes out of our front yard, about 2 feet from the road. Neither sewer or a septic system are options here. (Actually, a mount septic system would be possible. It would cost $15,000, and literally take up the entire backyard.)

The holding tank is 2000 gallons. When it is full, it cost $90 for a pumper truck to come out and empty it.

If my wife and I were both AVERAGE AMERICANS, using 69 gallons of water per person per day at home, we would fill that tank in 15 days. Paying $90 TWICE a month ($180!!!! monthly!) is NOT my idea of a good time!

So, what can we do about it?
We have already taken various water conservation measures, involving the clothes washer, and toilet, the two biggest water-wasters in the home.
The third largest home water user is the shower.

Our existing shower head pumps through 2.5 gallons of water per minute. That’s pretty much the standard. At the Home Improvement Store, nearly EVERY shower head was rated at 2.5gpm.

Now lets think about this. Say I take a 5 minute shower. Everyday. So does my wife.
2.5gpm x 5 min = 12.5 gallons per shower
x 2 people = 25 gallons per day

The tank holds 2000 gallons / $90 pumping fee = $.045 = 4.5 cents per gallon. I spend almost 5 cents per gallon to throw water away!!!

$0.045 x 25 gals = $1.125 per day to shower
x 30 = $33.75 per MONTH to shower.
That’s more than my CABLE BILL!

Who knew showering was so expensive!?

I quickly headed to the store to find a flow-restrictor, new showerhead, or some other way to save water in the shower.

Looking through the rather large display of showerheads at the store – some costing over $100 – I could only find ONE water-saving showerhead. ONE. That’s it. No flow restrictors, no other showerheads. Just that one.

So I bought it.

Replacing the old showerhead with the new one took about five minutes total. Four minutes of that were to find a slip-lock pliers to help unscrew the old head. One minute to screw on the new showerhead.

The new showerhead is 1.5 gallons per minute.
1.5gpm x 5 min shower = 7.5 gallons
x 2 people = 15 gallons
x $0.045 = $0.675 per day for showering
x 30 days = $20.25 per month for showering.

Old showerhead = $33.75 monthly
New Showerhead = $20.25 monthly
Monthly savings = $13.50

And the best part? The showerhead cost $12. That means I have a return on investment of less than one month.

$13.50 x 12 months = $162 per year savings.
That also means I would have to pump the tank almost two fewer times per year, AND save that much wear and tear on my well pump.

Not bad for a $12 investment and five minutes of work.


1 Matt February 24, 2010 at 5:45 pm

Not to mention your energy savings – less hot water!
Nice work. Crazy to hear about your holding tank setup – that’s rough, and expensive. Neat though in that you pay for exactly what you use. Good motivation to conserve!

2 Neil Blanchard February 27, 2010 at 12:25 am

Hi Ben,

Here’s a 1.5gal/min showerhead — with a “pause” button, that makes it very easy to pause the flow while you are lathering and washing. Though, you can use the lever on a typical shower control to reduce the spray to a near trickle, and it won’t induce any water hammer…


I just found a 0.5gal/min head:

Sincerely, Neil

3 Jough626 April 22, 2010 at 10:00 am

Currently I have a 1.25gpm in both showers, 0.5gpm on both bathroom sinks, 1.5gpm in the kitchen sink, 0.8l/1.6l dual flush toilets and a front load washing machine. The well pump is also setup to run at 35psi/65psi, instead of 40/60. The result is longer and fewer run times for the pump and more time spent at a lower pressure, less water used.

You should consider not putting the water from your washing machine in the tank. Put it in a bucket, then dispose of it outside.

4 jkp1187 April 26, 2010 at 11:31 pm

I think the 1.5 GPM showerhead I installed last years was one of the best bang-for-the-buck water saving improvement I’ve ever done. It took a week or two to get used to it (the previous showerhead probably was 3 or 4 GPM,) but I love it now.

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