How to Save More Than 5,000% on Your Utility Bill by Using a Low-Flow Showerhead

David Fessler By David Fessler, Energy and Infrastructure Strategist, The Oxford Club

Alternative Energy

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In fact, he recently wrote an article on how to save $4,000 on your car and another on how to stay warm using a simple German trick – strategies every man should know. This publication is completely independent of The Oxford Club, but we thought that innovative thinkers like you would enjoy it.

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– Rachel Gearhart, Managing Editor

I write a lot about energy… how it’s produced, generated and stored.

In this article, I’m going to show how you can easily make a 5,000%-plus profit on an investment of just $3.80. Heck, you probably have that much in your pocket or change purse.

The best part is you’ll save a bundle of energy in the process. Your investment will turn into real dollars you can spend or invest in something else.

So here we go. Your first step is to head to your local hardware or big-box building supply store and buy a low-flow showerhead with a shut-off valve. Or maybe you’ve become Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN) lazy like me. In that case, a few clicks will have one or more on their way to you.

Cost: about $3.80.

You’ll need to dig out a couple of items to install it. Open your toolbox and take out a medium-sized adjustable wrench and a small roll of Teflon plumbing thread tape.

Even if you have to buy the wrench and tape, it’ll be worth it. Use the wrench to take off your old showerhead.

Wrap the threads on the pipe sticking out of the wall with two or three layers of Teflon pipe tape. Make sure you wrap it in a clockwise direction.

Start screwing on the new showerhead by hand until it’s hand-tight. Snug up the head a little further with the adjustable wrench.

That’s it. Your work is done.

Calculating Your Return on Investment

First, I’m going to make a couple of assumptions. The first is you’re buying this because you don’t already have one.

A conventional showerhead uses 3 to 4 gallons of water per minute. Most low-flow showerheads use 2 gallons per minute or less.

I have  one in my home. It uses about 1.5 gallons per minute.

Here’s an easy way to calculate how much your showerhead uses.

You’ll need a 1-gallon plastic milk jug. If the top isn’t wide enough already, take a knife or scissors and widen it to fit over your showerhead.

Turn on the water, and time how many seconds it takes to fill the container. Now take 60 and divide it by the number of seconds your container took to fill.

The answer is the number of gallons per minute (gpm) of water used by your showerhead. I’m going to use 3.5 gpm as a conventional showerhead average.

The difference between a 3.5-gpm head and a 1.5-gpm one may not sound that significant. But let’s do a little math.

Let’s assume the average person in your home spends 10 minutes in the shower every day. My sons spend twice that. But my wife and I rarely spend more than five minutes each, so we average 10 minutes each.

Let’s look at the conventional showerhead first:

  • 3.5 gpm x 10 minutes per day x 365 days per year = 12,775 gallons per year.

Now let’s calculate the amount of water used for the low-flow head:

  • 3.5 gpm x 10 minutes per day x 365 days per year = 5,475 gallons per year.

Quite a difference, isn’t it? It turns out the low-flow head will save about 57% of the water normally used for showers.

How Much Money Is That?

Good question. Let’s figure that out, since we’ll need it to calculate our ROI.

From what I remember of my thermodynamics class, heating water takes 8.3 British thermal units (Btus) per gallon per degree Fahrenheit.

Whether you have city water or a well, most water enters the home at 55 F. And most folks feel comfortable showering in water that’s 105 F.

So we have to heat every gallon of water a total of 50 F. Let’s see how many Btus per year it takes to heat the water used by both showerheads.

Conventional showerhead:

  • 50-degree Fahrenheit temperature difference x 8.3 Btus per gallon per degree Fahrenheit x 12,775 gallons per year = 5.302 million Btus per year.

Low-flow showerhead:

  • 50-degree Fahrenheit temperature difference x 8.3 Btus per gallon per degree Fahrenheit x 5,475 gallons per year = 2.272 million Btus per year.

Now we need to convert Btus into the units we use to purchase natural gas or electricity. For natural gas, we need to convert Btus to Ccf (100 cubic feet).

For electric hot water heater users, we need to convert Btus to kilowatt-hours (kWh).

For the conventional showerhead:

  • 302 million Btus x 0.00001 Ccf per Btu = 53 Ccf
  • 302 million Btus x 0.000293071 kWh per Btu = 1,554 kWh.

For the low-flow showerhead:

  • 2,272 million Btus x 0.00001 Ccf per Btu = 23 Ccf
  • 272 million Btus x 0.000293071 kWh per Btu = 666 kWh.

We’re Getting Warmer…

We’ve almost figured out our ROI. To complete our calculations, we need also factor in the efficiency of the water heater. But let’s say, when all is said and done, the low-flow showerhead saves 45 Ccf or 987 kWh per year.

I used a price of $0.529 per Ccf for natural gas. That results in low-flow showerhead savings of $23.81 per year per person.

For electric, I used a price of $0.05 per kWh. And electric hot water heater owners are the big winners. Their savings will be $49.35 per person per year.

Let’s assume a family of four installs a low-flow head. They’ll save $95.24 if they have a natural gas hot water heater or $197.40 if they have an electric hot water heater each year.

And the return on investment is staggering… 2,406% per year for natural gas water heater owners. For users of electric water heaters, it’s 5,095% per year.

Not bad returns for $3.80 and 10 minutes’ work.

Good investing,