Save Money with Low Flow Shower Head and Aerators

By , on May 5, 2009

If I told you that you could make a 462% annualized return by investing in a water saving shower head, you might tell me to take a hike. With the stock market in the tank, you might be tired of hearing about another investment where you can make huge returns with little or no risk. No way, right?

The truth is, with water getting more and more expensive every day, especially for those located in the southwestern United States, investing in water saving devices, such as low flow shower head and faucet aerator, is a good choice.

For example, let’s say you live in a 2-bedroom house with 1 other person. Let’s also assume you and your fellow housemate use 300 gallons of water each day (150 gallons is a commonly used metric for daily water use). Multiplying that daily water use by 30 days gives us our monthly water usage of 9,000 gallons. Finally, let’s assume that the shower head in your bathroom flows at a rate of 2.5 gallons per minute, a very common rate for a modern shower head.

Quick Summary

150 gallons of water typically used by one person in one day
2.5 gallons of water that flows through a standard showerhead in one minute
40% average savings of a low flow shower head over a standard one
\$55 average amount of money saved in one year by switching to a low flow shower head

After being convinced by my pitch, you go out and purchase a new high-efficiency shower head for \$50. This new water saving shower head flows at a rate of only 1.5 gallons per minute, a 40% improvement in water efficiency! Multiplying your total monthly water use by the percentage of water used by shower heads (around 20%), gives us the number of total gallons used by our shower head, or 1,980 gallons in this example. Since your new shower head is 40% more water efficient, it will save us 792 gallons each month!

Now, we need to quantify those saved gallons, in order to calculate how much money that is saving us. Out here in California, water costs about \$0.006 per gallon, or a sixth of a penny. The new shower head saves you 792 gallons per month, multiply that by \$0.006 and net savings is \$4.69 per month or \$56.22 per year. If the expected life of this new shower head is 5 years, it will cost you \$10 per year, yet you are saving \$56.22 per year. A 462% return on your money!

In addition, the less water that flows from the shower head, the less water that needs to be heated, which saves you heating cost on your electricity or gas bill depending on your setup.

Andy is a 30-something New Yorker who turned his financial life around. He took charge of his finances, got out of debt, and is now working his way toward financial success. He is the owner of Money Destiny and the publisher of WorkSaveLive.com.

1. Matt S says:

(barf)
I want a shower so hard that it hurts my back! What an awesome feeling. So the way I figure it, for the price of a couple rounds of martini’s I can live like a normal human being for a year.
I’m also stocking up on a lifetime of Edison bulbs too. That’s right, good old filament. Heck, the ones that are taking the hottest NYC & Chicago restaurants by storm are intoxicating! Yeah, I might get some of those carbon filament squirrel-cage bulbs. I’ll skip on the jaundice colored CF’s thank you, maybe even save some mercury from making it into our land fills ie: water supply.

If there wasn’t a moratorium on drilling, natural gas and nukes, we’d have all the energy in the world. Can’t wait to see how the marketplace responds to the Chevy Volt too.

What is it that makes these shower heads only 2.5 gln a minute flow? A screen or something? I’d like to take it out, or I’ll have to keep looking on Ebay for a nice early 20th century sunflower head that gushes me all with love!!

2. Josh W says:

Water reduction is one of the greatest ways to save energy. The average home can save \$150+ per year, just in heating the water. Tank-less Heaters are also impressive, although the installation is pricey.

Josh

3. RyanF says:

At the time I installed a tankless water heater, I didn’t fully understand the on-demand concept of instantly heating gallons of water. Sometimes when looking into a new product to buy, it’s what isn’t being said that’s as important as what is. Now I see that I might have done with a smaller size if I had first installed low-flow shower heads and aerators. It makes sense, with a low-flow showerheads being a much cheaper way to go.

4. John R. Green says:

This should be the last thing on the list of ways to cut home costs. Water is cheaper than say electricity. The HVAC on a house accounts for 15% of that electricity, the first thing I would do is reinsulate the attic and add an attic fan. That can take down the attic temperature from a scorching 130* to 100*. With that drop your AC unit will work less, and cut your costs at least 25%. Now there’s an ROI(Return on investment)

But it’s all for naught unless you have white blinds, reflecting the heat out. The more heat you keep out of the house the less the AC unit has to work. Simple as that.

5. Darwin's Finance says:

Liked this one a lot; bounced it off the wife and no objections. Will have to give it a shot. I stumbled this; keep up the great work!

6. Pinyo says:

@MLR – With several thousands PF Bloggers, this type of coincidence is bound to happen.

7. MLR says:

Interesting… had an article like this scheduled on my blog. Oh well, two posts on this can survive!

Although the data I used is slightly different

I’ll tweet you when it goes up!

8. BeWaterWise Rep says:

Saving water not only helps the environment but also saves money. Hence it’s a win-win situation for all. Low flow shower heads and aerators are definitely great ways of conserving water. Here are some more water saving tips: http://www.bewaterwise.com/tips01.html Hope this helps!

9. ObliviousInvestor says:

a) I agree that low-flow shower heads are a great idea. My wife and I use one, and–after a little getting used to–they’re just as effective.

b) Not to nitpick, but that’s not a 462% annualized return. To calculate an annualized return, you don’t get to divide up the \$50 spent over 5 years unless you actually got to spend it over 5 years. (If, for example, your purchase was financed over 5 years with a zero interest rate, which is unlikely for such a small purchase.)

It’s roughly a 100% annualized return. Point being, a 100% return is still absolutely fantastic, no need to use a miscalculation to make it sound even better.

10. SpendingIt.com says:

I would like to make this switch, but I am not sure that this is the area where I really want to save money. There is not much cheaper in this world than water. But, does the aerator make a big difference?

I’m all for saving water and lowering my bills. But I’ve never met a low-flow shower head that provided anything resembling a decent shower. I think \$5 a month is an okay price for great showers that wake you up in the morning. I’d much rather tackle the toilet as a way to save water.

• Pinyo says:

I agree it’s not satisfying at first, but you can’t tell the difference after a week or so. My whole family complained when we switch, but everyone got used to it now. With 5 people using the shower (and we usually have additional guests), you can imaging how much water we are saving.

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