What are the 3 Best low flow showerheads for reducing water usage and saving money on utility bills?

by Bill Duffy - Read report

Delta Contemporary H2O Kinetic Showerhead (Model #RP51032)
Niagara Earth Massage 1.5 GPM Handheld Showerhead (#N2945)
High Sierra FCS-100 Showerhead
CONCLUSION:
The 3 Best low flow showerheads for saving money on utility bills and reducing water usage are the Delta Contemporary H2O Kinetic Showerhead (#RP51032), the Niagara Earth Massage 1.5 GPM Handheld Showerhead (#N2945), and the High Sierra FCS-100 Showerhead.
  • Background
  • Process
  • Comparison
  • Rate this Report
FACTS/BACKGROUND:

Installing a low flow showerhead in your bathroom's shower makes “green” sense – you'll reduce your water usage and save on your utility bills.  Since the early 1990s, the Environmental Protection Agency has required American households to use showerheads that have a flow rate of 2.5 Gallons per Minute (GPM) or less. Prior to this the standard was a staggering 5.0 GPM or less!  The EPA also has a WaterSense certification program that identifies particularly efficient water-saving products; for low flow showerheads to be WaterSense certified, they must have flow rates of 2.0 GPM or less and live up to (or exceed) the pressure quality of standard 2.5 GPM showerheads. 

While researching low flow showerheads I noticed that many versions aerate the water flow (meaning pressurize the water flow with outside air) to increase the pressure to resemble that of a standard showerhead.  However, I chose to stay away from recommending aerated showerheads, because by combining hot water with air at a much lower temperature, they substantially lower the temperature of the final flow, requiring more hot water than normal to counteract the aeration's cooling effect.  And having to use more hot water counteracts the goal of saving on energy and utility bills in the first place!

For this report, I looked for non-aerated showerheads that either had the WaterSense certification or at least were in line with its requirement of 2.0 GPM or less.
 

PROCESS:
I started by researching how low flow showerheads work, and discovered EPA's WaterSense certification program. From there I researched various showerheads that either had WaterSense certification or had flow rates of 2.0 GPM or less. I discovered that many low flow showerheads use aeration to increase the water pressure while using less water, but chose to avoid recommending these on 3 Best as they actually require using more hot water to counteract the cooling effect of the aeration process.

I visited several different 'green' sites for recommendations on different products and then checked to see if these products had positive buyer reviews elsewhere. I discovered there are dozens of different models of low flow showerheads, so I went on a combination of WaterSense certification, positive reviews on 'green' sites, and whether the showerheads had positive buyer feedback.
COMPARISON:
 Delta Contemporary H2O Kinetic Showerhead (Model #RP51032)Niagara Earth Massage 1.5 GPM Handheld Showerhead (#N2945)High Sierra FCS-100 Showerhead
CredibilityYesYesNo (but uses 1.5 GPM, which satisfies WaterSense requirements)
UsabilityNon-aerated. Professional installation recommended (requires several plumbing tools). Four wide square jets in spray face offer large droplets of water as opposed to small spray jets. Dimensions: 2.5 ″ showerhead length, 4″ square spray face. Non-aerated. Easy to install by hand without tools, offers adjustable pressure through nine spray jets. 72” hose for flexibility of use.Non-aerated. No information on High Sierra website about installation. Single nozzle ensures no clogging. Small size ideal for smaller shower stalls.
Pricing$60.00$30.00$30.00
Does Product Get Results?Widely recommended and comes with lifetime warrantyWidely recommended and comes with 10 year warrantyWidely recommended and comes with five year warranty
RATE THIS REPORT:
community rating: 3.5 (2 ratings)
REASONING:

In deciding the 3 Best low flow showerheads, I used these key considerations to focus my research:

1. Trustworthiness – Does the product have the EPA WaterSense certification or satisfy its requirement of using 2.0 GPM or less?
2. Usability – How manageable is the product?  Is it easy to install?  What is the water flow like?  Is the showerhead non-aerated?
3. Pricing – Does the overall product deliver at an affordable price?
4. Performance - Does the Product Get the Desired Results?

While there were some other tangible factors in the selection process, and included in the discussion below, these four attributes illustrate the most important factors in the decision making process.

Delta Contemporary H2O Kinetic Showerhead (Model #RP51032)


WaterSense-certified and sold with a lifetime warranty, the Delta Contemporary H2O Kinetic Showerhead  takes first place as the best low flow showerhead.  Delta's various showerhead models are consistently ranked across several different 'green' expert sites, and highly praised in buyer feedback sections of online retailers.  This model is part of a line that uses Delta's H2O Kinetic Technology, a design that pushes larger water droplets out of four large squares from the spray face, as opposed to several smaller streams – it helps the water flow feel warmer, resulting in less hot water use, and makes it feel like more water is coming out than what is actually being used (1.5 GPM).  Reviewers have described the flow of this Delta model as “drenching”, which is a pretty desirable adjective for this kind of product!  This particular model happens to come in a stylish, square-face design, but other models in this line have more traditional styles, with circular or flute-like heads.  At approximately $60, the Delta Contemporary H2O Kinetic Showerhead is on the more expensive end of the spectrum, but for the WaterSense certification, lifetime warranty, 1.5 GPM and widespread favorable reviews, this product ranks at the top of its class.

 

Niagara Earth Massage 1.5 GPM Handheld Showerhead (#N2945)


For the second best low flow showerhead I chose the Niagara Earth Massage 1.5 GPM Handheld Showerhead.  This model, like the Delta, is also WaterSense certified, delivering a quality shower experience using only 1.5 GPM and no aeration.  I chose the Niagra because of two unique features – 1) that it is a handheld showerhead, with a durable 72” hose for flexibility of use, and 2) that the flow can be adjusted according to your preference for water pressure (from gentle to forceful!).  The Niagara Earth Massage has nine jets in its spray face, and is easily installed by hand without tools.  Buyer feedback ratings on Amazon were also extremely high, with an approval rating of 4/5 stars across 27 reviews.  I only rated this product second for its smaller warranty of 10 years, but at the list price of approximately $30, the Niagara Earth Massage delivers a quality, affordable shower experience.

 

High Sierra FCS-100 Showerhead


The High Sierra FCS-100 Showerhead rounds up the 3 Best low flow showerheads.  Though it is not WaterSense certified, it does only use 1.5 GPM, and is unique in that it uses a single nozzle to deliver a high-powered spray without aeration.  Because it has one single nozzle, the company website claims that it will never clog, as opposed to showerheads with smaller, multiple jet openings.  The High Sierra FCS-100 has a small head – 2.5 inches long and 1 inch wide – which is useful especially for those with small shower stalls.  Plus, it has an on/off toggle, which slows or halts the water flow without affecting the water temperature – this is useful when you want to shave or lather without wasting water in the process.  Finally, it comes in four different colors, so if matching the showerhead to your bathroom's décor matters, this model might be the one for you!  The High Sierra is highly recommended on Amazon, with a rating of 5/5 stars across 14 reviews, and like the Niagara, is priced at approximately $30.  The High Sierra FCS-100 comes in third because the warranty is only five years long and because the single nozzle might lend an 'institutional' feel to the shower experience – but nevertheless, this model delivers a quality, high-powered spray while saving on water use and bills.

 

Each of these three showerheads delivers a quality shower experience while saving on water use.  I rated the Delta Contemporary H2O Kinetic Showerhead first for its lifetime warranty, WaterSense certification, unique style and style options, and widespread favorable reviews.  The Niagara Earth Massage comes in second for its WaterSense certification, 10 year warranty, unique handheld style and adjustable pressure.  The High Sierra comes in third for not having WaterSense certification and only offering a five-year warranty, however its 1.5 GPM satisfies the WaterSense requirement of 2.0 GPM or less and the many favorable reviews, on/off toggle and multiple colors still make it a unique and attractive option that should be included in the 3 Best.