5 thoughts on “drip drip drip drip

  1. I dunno, I’m kind of with the enviros on that one. Though I think standards should differ from place to place given the availability of water. Not sure why Seattle has a dog in this hunt.

  2. I dunno — before the low-flow requirement was introduced in 1992, showerheads passed 6-8 gpm or so. Figure the average person showers for 5 minutes, and the average household has three showers per day, that’s over 24,000 gallons of water a year per household. That’s not it, though — about 3/4 of that had to be heated up with an electric or gas water heater before it went through the shower. Scale that up to the continent (Canada has the same restriction) and there’s a pretty big impact. Showers are #2 in water use in the average household (toilets are #1), and #1 in hot water use, so it’s a good thing to target. These are the sorts of tragedies of the commons that I’d expect regulation on.
    An unrestricted showerhead works out to the equivalent of leaving the hot water running in the kitchen sink for ten minutes every time you shower.
    The reason this works out OK for the showerer is that moving more water doesn’t necessarily make the shower feel like it has a more forceful spray; that’s up to the showerhead design more than anything. (Compare a garden hose with various amounts of thumb covering.) The original low-flow showerheads (and the $10 Walmart ones today) just put in a plug or valve to make less water reach the showerhead, which obviously doesn’t work very well — hence the “cut out the plug” recommendations you’ll see on sites talking about how awful low-flow showerheads are. These days, though, flow restrictions in well-engineered showerheads are done with pulsing and aeration. The Speakman shower heads are said to be some of the best for a forceful low-flow shower, but our gym showers here use The Incredible Head, which cost about $10 and can produce enough force to make the shower uncomfortable.
    The newer Bridgehead fair-trade coffeehouses around here have toilets with a flush and a half-flush button, which is a nice way of addressing the low-flow issue on toilets; the half flush basically just empties and refills the bowl.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.