Watersense is an EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) program. It’s very similar to the Energy Star program, which has been around longer. As you may know, Energy Star certifies products that use less gas or electricity than usual. Watersense certifies that a given product uses substantially less water than standard models.
Watersense is a voluntary program, and signifies that a manufacturer has gone above and beyond federal requirements for water efficiency. For instance, every shower head sold today is mandated to use 2.5 GPM or less. Watersense-certified models will use 20% less, or at most 2.0 GPM.
Watersense is of great benefit to you because it certifies that manufacturers’ claims about efficiency are accurate. There are dozens of shower heads, faucets, and appliances on the market that claim to be “green” or “energy smart” but are actually the opposite. If a product earns the Watersense certification, it’s been tested by EPA labs to use 2.0 GPM or less.
Why you should use a Watersense-certified shower head
Your shower is one of the largest usage points for hot water in your home. If you have several folks living with you, it may be the largest–period. By using a more efficient shower head, you can substantially lower the amount you spend on your water and water heating bills. You’ll be cutting at least 20% (if not more) off the cost of your showers! That shows up both on your water bills and either your gas or electric bill, depending on what you use for heating.
We specifically recommend Watersense-certified models because the testing process looks at functionality as well as flow rate. We know as well as you do that a lot of low-flow shower heads aren’t very pleasant to use. Watersense-certified fixtures are tested to perform at least as well as those that use the standard water allowance.
You’ll also find that by cutting back on the water you use for each shower, you’re able to get more out of your tankless water heater. If you have an inefficient shower head, it’s very hard to multitask with hot water unless you have a massive tankless unit. Using a Watersense fixture, you can easily run another appliance or fixture at the same time.
Which one should I buy?
There are a whole range of Watersense-certified shower heads on the market these days. As parts of the country experience water shortages and we all become more conscientious consumers, companies have taken notice.
While selecting the best shower heads is often a matter of personal preference, we have a solid favorite in this category. High Sierra is a fairly recent company (we’ve been using their products for a few years, but it’s only in the past 2-3 that they’ve taken off more widely) that makes by far the best Watersense-certified fixtures we’ve used.
We suggest these fixtures because they’re solid metal, at a price where everything else is plastic junk. We’re appliance reviewers, which gives us a strong dislike for cheap plastic components. That’s as true of shower heads as of water heaters! High Sierra’s shower heads are built like tanks. Even the joints are completely metal.
They work well, too. The High Sierra design uses a single orifice, rather than a bunch of tiny spray nozzles. It’s fairly unique on the market. The results are great! All the water is contained in a neat cone with minimal misting, and the coverage is consistent all the way through it. It really makes the most of the lower water draw.
They’re also dead-simple to maintain. The finishes don’t deteriorate, and the lack of little spray heads means you don’t have to deal with clogs. They basically clean themselves!
Most importantly, they offer very solid value. They’re actually cheaper than a lot of the brand name offerings, even though they’re made better and provide better functionality.
When you go to buy one, you’ll find they come in two different flow rates: 1.5 GPM and 1.8 GPM. Both go beyond even the Watersense standard for conservation, but they still give you a satisfying shower. We suggest the 1.5 GPM for most people, but if you have a lot of hair to rinse or a high-set shower pipe, the 1.8 GPM will give you more power and volume.
You can get both fixed and handheld versions in each flow rate. We’ll post some links below, so you can check them out!
For the 1.5 GPM fixed model:
For the 1.5 GPM handheld model:
For the 1.8 GPM fixed model:
For the 1.8 GPM handheld model: