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  • Water running from shower head

    The Low-Down on Water-Saving Shower Heads



July 2019


Save on your hot water costs – by switching from an inefficient shower head to a low-flow shower head.

Did you know that you could save up to 20 litres of water per minute by replacing an old, inefficient shower head with a 3-star water efficient shower head?1 Given that most of us shower in hot water – which consumes energy to heat it up – this quick fix could pay off fast. It is estimated that by using water-efficient products around the home, Australians could save up to $114 per household on their energy bills1.

Let’s take a look at why low-flow shower heads get such good press and do the math on how many litres of hot water you could save by switching to a water efficient model.

How water-saving shower heads work

Water-saving shower heads – also called low-flow shower heads – restrict the water flow, without making it feel like you’re standing under a trickle of water. These days, they come in a range of styles and sizes to suit all bathroom aesthetics.

Depending on the design of the model you choose (generally, a wider head will douse you more effectively), you may not even notice the difference between a low-flow shower head and an older product.

Look for the WELS rating

The national Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) scheme is like the star rating scheme for electrical appliances – yet, in this case, it tells you how water-efficient a product is.

Compulsory on all shower heads sold in Australia, the WELS label makes it easier for you to compare the efficiency of different products. Each label includes the water flow rate (measured in litres per minute) and a star rating. It’s generally recommended that you choose a shower head with a minimum 3-star rating – which uses 9 litres or less per minute.

Why more people are switching to water-efficient shower heads

Here’s why water efficient shower heads are so popular:

  • They reduce your overall water consumption – which, in the shower, is generally hot water that costs money to heat
  • They reduce the amount of wastewater generated by homes
  • With less energy needed to heat water, they also reduce CO2 emissions

Given all these benefits, many local water companies offer rebates to help you buy a shower head. Others offer shower head exchange programs where you can swap an inefficient shower head with one supplied by the water authority. Check with your local water authority to see if any incentives or rebates are available in your area.

How much hot water could you save with a low flow shower head?

The WELS label on new shower heads makes it easy for you to do the maths on how much hot water you could use every time you have a shower. But how can you compare it to your old shower head, which doesn’t have a WELS star rating?

To work out how many litres you’re using in your existing shower every day, simply grab a bucket, turn on your shower, and see how many litres you catch in a minute (warning: you might need a big bucket, or quick emptying reflexes!). If it’s a conventional shower head, you could expect to catch between 20 and 25 litres in one minute.

Using average figures based on the fact that inefficient shower heads can pump out up to 25 litres per minute2 compared to a 4-star rated model that uses only 5 litres per minute, let’s look at how many litres of hot water you could save each year. We’ll assume that the shower in your home is used for 10 minutes per day.

Conventional shower head 3-star efficient shower head
Flow rate 25 litres per minute 5 litres per minute
Hot water usage (per day) 250 litres 50 litres
Hot water usage (per year) 91,250 litres 18,250 litres

*Approximate figures

As this example shows, it’s great to switch those old shower heads over to more water-efficient models. You could save tens of thousands of litres of water each year.

The final word

Taking a shower can consume a lot of hot water. Switching to a water-saving shower head is a great way to reduce your hot water consumption – which in turn will help to reduce your energy bills each year.


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