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Showerheads

Scope

Install WaterSense® labeled showerheads which can reduce water use in the shower by 20 percent.
Install WaterSense® labeled showerheads which can reduce water use in the shower by 20 percent.

Install WaterSense® labeled showerheads which can reduce water use in the shower by 20 percent. Each shower compartment should contain only one showerhead, or not exceed the 2.0 gallons per minute (gpm) maximum flow rate for the entire compartment.

3.6.1 Showerheads – All showerheads shall be WaterSense labeled showerheads. This includes fixed showerheads that direct water onto a user (excluding body sprays) for bathing purposes and hand-held showers. The showerhead must have a flow rate that does not exceed 2.0 gpm (7.6 liters per minute [lpm]) per shower compartment (≤ 2,160 in2) at flowing pressures of 20, 45, and 80 ± 1 psi (140, 310, and 550 ± 7 kPa).

In cases where more than one showerhead or hand-held shower is provided in combination with others in a single device intended to be connected to a single shower outlet, the entire device must meet the maximum flow requirement in all possible operating modes.

3.6.2 Shower compartments – The total allowable flow rate of water from all showerheads flowing at any given time, including rain systems, waterfalls, body sprays, and jets, shall be limited to 2.0 gpm per shower compartment, where the floor area of the shower compartment is less than or equal to 2,160 square inches (in2) (1.4 meters2 [m2]). For each increment of 2,160 in2 (1.4 m2) of floor area thereafter or part thereof, additional showerheads are allowed, provided the total flow rate of water from all flowing devices is equal to or less than 2.0 gpm per shower compartment, and the additional showerheads are operated by controls that are separate from the other showerheads in the compartment. If between 2,161 in2 (1.4 m2) and 4,320 in2 (2.8 m2), then the total allowable volume of water collected from all showerheads during the flow test should be no more than 0.70 gallons or 2.7 liters.

See the Compliance Tab for related codes and standards requirements, and criteria to meet national programs such as DOE’s Zero Energy Ready Home program, ENERGY STAR Certified Homes, and Indoor airPLUS.

Description

Showering is one of the leading uses of water inside the home, representing approximately 17% of annual residential indoor water use in the United States. Assuming there are 300 million people in the U.S. using 11.6 gallons of water per capita shower, about 1.2 trillion gallons of water are consumed by showering each year. The WaterSense® program released its final specification for showerheads on March 4, 2010, to further improve the nation’s water and energy efficiency by raising consumer awareness and promoting the use of more efficient showerheads.

Showering accounts for 1.2 trillion gallons of water per year in the United States.
Figure 1. Showering accounts for 1.2 trillion gallons of water per year in the United States. (Courtesy of PNNL)

Residential Water Use
Figure 2. Residential Water Use in the U.S. (Courtesy of U.S. EPA WaterSense)

Install WaterSense® labeled showerheads that can reduce water use in the shower by 20 percent. Each shower compartment should contain only one showerhead, or not exceed the 2.0 gpm maximum flow rate for the entire compartment.

Switch to WaterSense labeled faucets and fixtures.
Figure 3. Efficient showerheads can save 2,900 gallons of water per year. (Courtesy of U.S. EPA WaterSense)

Testing water faucets and fixtures.
Figure 4. WaterSense faucets can save 700 gallons per year. (Courtesy of U.S. EPA WaterSense)

WaterSense collaborated with the American Society of Mechanical Engineers/Canadian Standards Association Joint Harmonization Task Force to develop the specification criteria for high-efficiency showerheads. This task force is open to the public and comprises a wide variety of stakeholders, including showerhead manufacturers, water and energy utilities, testing laboratories, consultants, and other water efficiency and conservation specialists. Their participation, resources, and expertise enabled WaterSense to evaluate showerhead efficiency and performance and develop meaningful testing protocols that can effectively differentiate showerhead performance.

Prior to the task force’s work, there were no universally accepted criteria for measuring showerhead performance. Federal water efficiency legislation and national performance standards only establish product flow rates that dictate water consumption—they do not address what makes a satisfactory, or unsatisfactory, shower. With the showerhead specification, WaterSense and the task force have bridged this consumer information gap by incorporating performance requirements for products seeking to earn the WaterSense label. The requirements address flow rates across a range of pressures, spray force, and spray coverage, three key attributes of showerhead performance, according to consumer testing. These new requirements are designed to ensure a high level of performance and user satisfaction with high-efficiency showerheads.

Manufacturers are required by law to mark showerheads with the maximum flow rate. The showerhead marking will indicate if a showerhead meets the WaterSense maximum flow rate. To determine if the product meets all aspects of the WaterSense specification, look for the WaterSense label on the product packaging and documentation (the specification requires these materials to bear the WaterSense label). 

The specification sets the maximum acceptable flow rate per shower compartment at 2.0 gpm of water and the shower compartment size at 2,160 in2. WaterSense has determined that 2,160 in2 (36 inches x 60 inches) represents a reasonable maximum size for a single-person shower compartment, including roll-in showers that are large enough for a person in a wheelchair to remain sitting in the chair to shower.

WaterSense has not established criteria for bathtubs, indoor hot tubs, and indoor pools. These features can be installed at the builders’ discretion and will not be evaluated as part of the WaterSense inspection. 

The WaterSense website also provides a listing of labeled showerheads in the Directory of WaterSense Labeled Products

Ensuring Success

3.6.1 Showerheads – The inspector will obtain a list of the make and model numbers for all showerheads installed in the home and verify that they have earned the WaterSense® label. The inspector will also check the maximum flow rate from the showerheads, similar to the test performed on kitchen sink and bathroom sink faucets. For showers with one showerhead in a single shower compartment, no more than 0.35 gallons of water should be collected by inspector during the 10 second test. For multiple showerheads in a single compartment equal to or less than 2,160 in2, no more than 0.35 gallons of water should be collected from all showerheads during the flow test. This ensures that together the multiple showerheads do not exceed the maximum flow of 2.0 gpm. For each additional 2,160 in2 area (or part thereof), an additional 0.35 gallons of water is allowed during the flow test. For example, if the shower compartment is between 2,161 in2 and 4,320 in2, then the total allowable volume of water collected from all showerheads during the flow test should be no more than 0.7 gallons.

Testing shower fixture for water efficiency.
Figure 5. WaterSense-labeled showerheads release ≤ 0.35 gallons of water in a 10-second flow test (courtesy of U.S. EPA WaterSense Program)

Testing shower fixture for water efficiency.
Figure 6. A WaterSense-labeled showerhead is tested to ensure a flow of ≤ 0.35 gallons in a 10-second test (courtesy of U.S. EPA WaterSense Program)

3.6.2 Shower compartments – The inspector will also verify that appropriate flows are obtained in cases where more than one showerhead or hand-held shower is provided in combination with others in a single device intended to be connected to a single shower outlet. If more than one showerhead is installed in a shower compartment larger than 2,161 in2, the inspector will verify that the showerhead serving the additional area is operated by separate controls.

Climate

No climate-specific information applies.

Training

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Presentations

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Compliance

The Compliance tab contains both program and code information. Code language is excerpted and summarized below. For exact code language, refer to the applicable code, which may require purchase from the publisher. While we continually update our database, links may have changed since posting. Please contact our webmaster if you find broken links.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) WaterSense® New Home Specification

The EPA WaterSense New Home Specification states that:
3.6.1 Showerheads – All showerheads shall be WaterSense labeled showerheads. This includes fixed showerheads that direct water onto a user (excluding body sprays) for bathing purposes and hand-held showers.  A list of labeled showerheads can be found at the Directory of WaterSense Labeled Products

In cases where more than one showerhead or hand-held shower is provided in combination with others in a single device intended to be connected to a single shower outlet, the entire device must meet the maximum flow requirement in all possible operating modes.

3.6.2 Shower compartments – The total allowable flow rate of water from all showerheads flowing at any given time, including rain systems, waterfalls, body sprays, and jets, shall be limited to 2.0 gpm per shower compartment, where the floor area of the shower compartment is less than or equal to 2,160 square inches (in2) (1.4 meters2 [m2]). For each increment of 2,160 in2 (1.4 m2) of floor area thereafter or part thereof, additional showerheads are allowed, provided the total flow rate of water from all flowing devices is equal to or less than 2.0 gpm per shower compartment, and the additional showerheads are operated by controls that are separate from the other showerheads in the compartment.  A flow test does not exceed 0.35 gal/compartment.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Resource Manual for Building WaterSense Labeled Homes Version 1.2

The EPA Resource Manual for Building WaterSense Labeled Homes Version 1.2 states that: 

All showerheads shall be WaterSense labeled showerheads. This includes fixed showerheads that direct water onto a user (excluding body sprays) for bathing purposes and hand-held showers. In cases where more than one showerhead or hand-held shower is provided in combination with others in a single device intended to be connected to a single shower outlet, the entire device must meet the maximum flow requirement in all possible operating modes.

The total allowable flow rate of water from all showerheads flowing at any given time, including rain systems, waterfalls, body sprays, and jets, shall be limited to 2.0 gpm per shower compartment, where the floor area of the shower compartment is less than 2,160 square inches (in2) (1.4 meters2 [m2]). For each increment of 2,160 in2 (1.4 m2) of floor area thereafter or part thereof, additional showerheads are allowed, provided the total flow rate of water from all flowing devices is equal to or less than the 2.0 gpm per shower compartment and the additional showerheads are operated by controls that are separate from the other showerheads in the compartment.

This Retrofit tab provides information that helps installers apply this “new home” guide to improvement projects for existing homes. This tab is organized with headings that mirror the new home tabs, such as “Scope,” “Description,” “Success,” etc. If there is no retrofit-specific information for a section, that heading is not included.

Guidance for the measures described in this guide is applicable to both new and existing homes.

DOE’s Standard Work Specifications describes practices to complete whole-house energy upgrades safely without injury or hazardous exposure in the section on Global Worker Safety. The Specifications also provide some specific guidance on showerheads and faucet aerators.

 

More Info.

Access to some references may require purchase from the publisher. While we continually update our database, links may have changed since posting. Please contact our webmaster if you find broken links.

Case Studies

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References and Resources*

  1. Author(s): U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
    Organization(s): EPA
    Publication Date: June, 2017

    Resource that provides a directory of products that meet WaterSense program requirements. 

  2. Author(s): U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
    Organization(s): EPA
    Publication Date: July, 2014

    Resource that provides WaterSense inspectors with guidance for verification of program requirements for water-efficient new homes under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) WaterSense program.

  3. Author(s): U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
    Organization(s): EPA
    Publication Date: July, 2014

    Resource to help builders better understand the WaterSense requirements for labeled homes and assist them in meeting the criteria so they can receive the label for their new construction.

  4. Author(s): U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
    Organization(s): EPA
    Publication Date: July, 2014

    Resource that provides a checklist of program criteria for water-efficient new homes under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) WaterSense program.

  5. Author(s): U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
    Organization(s): EPA
    Publication Date: July, 2014

    Resource that establishes the criteria for water-efficient new homes under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) WaterSense program.

  6. Author(s): EPA
    Organization(s): U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
    Publication Date: June, 2017

    Resource that provides guidance when choosing products that meet WaterSense program requirements.

Contributors to this Guide

The following authors and organizations contributed to the content in this Guide.

Last Updated: 06/23/2017