Water-Saving Plumbing Fixtures

Low-Water Usage Showerheads, Toilets, and Faucets

View of an low-flow shower head in a shower stall spraying water.
••• Raquel Perez Garrido / EyeEm / Getty Images

Low-flow fixtures can provide the homeowner with significant savings on their water bill and be offer a sustainable and eco-friendly measure in your remodeling or construction project. Low flow fixtures such as toilets, faucet aerators, and showerheads, can provide the same utility when compared to non-low-flow fixtures.

The federal government set national standards for the flow rate of plumbing fixtures with the U.S. Energy Policy Act of 1992. The Act and improvements in plumbing fixtures over the years has led to water conservation and sustainability. Some states will provide rebates to consumers who replace plumbing with low-flow alternatives.

Low-Flow Showerheads

Low-flow showerheads are the ones with a flow rate of less than 2.5 GPM at a water pressure of 80 pounds per square inch (psi). However, recent low flow showerheads can even provide a flow rate of less than 2.0 GPM. The two basic types of low flow showerheads are:

  1. Laminar-flow showerhead will form streams of water and will provide more accurate temperature control.
  2. Aerating low flow showerheads will mix water with air forming a misty type of water spray. It will create a great amount of steam and moisture, and in humid climates are not recommended.

Low-flow showerheads should replace older ones that were designed with a flow rate of 5.5 GPM.

Low-Flow Toilets

Low-flow—low-flush—toilets and ultra-low-flow toilets have been designed to use half the amount of water that was used by traditional toilets. Low flow toilets are averaging 1.6 GPF, instead of 3.5 GPF. When first introduced in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the design of low-flow toilets was under fire due to the claim that some models could not flush the toilet in an efficient way.

Later techniques and toilets performance upgraded and relief these problems. A majority are designed with a half flush option for liquid waste and a full flush for solid waste disposal. Many low flow toilets are also designed to reduce clog problems because their drainage passage is wider.

  • Gravity-Fed low-flow toilets use the traditional weight of water to push waste down the bowl. They are cheaper and less noisy than pressure-assisted low flow toilets.
  • Pressure-assisted low-flow toilets are usually noisier but can reduce water consumption by 45% when compared to gravity-fed toilets. This system uses air pressure built up inside the tank to push the water down.

Faucets

Old sink faucets can also be wasting a lot of water and money. You should consider replacing your faucets if it uses more than 2.5GPM. There are a couple of ideas that you can choose from to replace that outdated faucet. You can choose whether to replace it with a new faucet, normally with less than 1.5GPM or by installing an aerator. The aerator or flow restrictor can be added to almost any faucet, providing for an easy and cheap modification that will save you some money over the years.

Low-Flow Fixtures

Depending on the manufacturer, a basic low-flow toilet can cost around $50 for only the fixture. Showerheads begin in the $12 range and low-flow faucets start in the $20 price range. Of course, the more bells and whistles you select, the higher the cost of the plumbing fixture will rise. The cost and time requirements of installing new plumbing fixtures will vary by location and the existing construction.

  • Ideal for Retrofitting
  • Low-flow toilets can save more than 20,000 gallons of water per year for a four-member family
  • Available in a wide array of colors and styles.
  • Regulated by the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO)
  • Must meet the appropriate American National Standards Institute (ANSI)
  • Water-efficient toilets save money on your monthly water bill.