Should I Install a Low-Flow Showerhead to Save Water?

From your cable and Internet bill to utilities like heat and electricity, there are a lot of costs that must be added into your monthly budget (as I discovered upon moving into my first apartment). There are always ways, however, of cutting back on those expenses. You can save water and lower your water heating costs by installing a low-flow showerhead.

What is a Low-Flow Showerhead?

In short, a low-flow showerhead is one that comes with a flow rate of 2.5 gallons per minute or less. While this still seems like quite a bit of water, these showerheads can actually decrease your shower water usage by about half.

A regular showerhead has a water flow of about 3.8 gallons per minute, so if you took an eight minute shower, you would be using approximately 30 gallons of water. But with a low-flow showerhead, you would only use about 20 gallons.

With this fixture, you’ll also need less energy to heat your shower, reducing your power bills.

How do Low-Flow Showerheads Work?

With a low-flow showerhead, it may not feel like you’re using less water, but you are. The showerhead restricts water flow while still maintaining a strong pressure, giving you the experience of a normal shower.

Aerating showerheads mix air in with the water stream. This maintains strong water pressure while still using less water than a traditional showerhead. However, because there is air combined with the water, the temperature may not stay as hot for as long as traditional showerheads.

A non-aerating showerhead doesn’t use air; instead, it pulses to keep the pressure strong. The water with a non-aerating showerhead tends to be hotter because there is no introduction of air.

How to Measure Your Current Flow Rate

In order to discover whether you would benefit from a low-flow showerhead, it’s important to figure out the flow rate of your current fixture. Turn on your shower and let the water run into a bucket for 10 seconds, then turn it off.
Measure the amount of water that’s in your bucket, then multiply that figure by six. The number you end up with will be your water flow per minute, or gallons per minute. If your shower is releasing about 3.8 gallons or more per minute, think about replacing your current showerhead with a low-flow fixture.

Here’s another helpful rule of thumb: If it takes fewer than 20 seconds for your showerhead to fill up a 1-gallon bucket, you could benefit from installing a more environmentally friendly fixture.

Which Low-Flow Showerhead is Best for Your Bathroom?

If you’ve chosen to get a low-flow showerhead for your bathroom, then you must decide which type you would like. You could opt for the traditional stationary model or a handheld showerhead that’s attached to a flexible hose.

While handheld models may offer convenience, they’re typically a bit more expensive than the stationary fixtures. However, a handheld showerhead may be slightly more environmentally friendly than the traditional model because there is less distance between the showerhead and your body.

Other Green Bathroom Ideas

Installing a low-flow showerhead isn’t the only way you can go green. Here are a few other bathroom ideas that may lower your overall energy costs:

Use Green Cleaning Products: Some bathroom cleaners contain harsh chemicals, which is why it’s more environmentally friendly (and often cheaper) to just make your own.

For instance, a tub cleaner can be made using 2/3 cup baking soda, 1/2 cup vegetable oil-based liquid soap, 1/2 cup water and 2 tablespoons vinegar. Mildew can be removed by mixing 1/2 cup vinegar with 1/2 cup borax.

Rethink Your Towels: Think about swapping your current regular cotton towels for towels made from organic cotton. This material requires the use of fewer pesticides, natural dyes and softeners, making it better for your skin and for the environment.

Bamboo towels are another eco-friendly choice, as bamboo is a fast-growing sustainable alternative to cotton, not to mention it has antibacterial properties.

Fix Leaks: A simple leak in your tub or sink might not seem like a big deal, but you may actually be losing a lot of water. Talk to your landlord about the problem and get it fixed as soon as possible. In the meantime, you can put a bucket under the leak and use the collected water to hydrate your houseplants.

Replace Your Shower Curtain: Many shower curtains are made of polyvinyl chloride, otherwise known as PVC plastic. The material actually releases chemical gases, and it can’t be recycled. Instead, opt for a PVC-free shower curtain. Hemp shower curtains, for instance, are resistant to mold and mildew.

Take Shorter Showers: A low-flow showerhead can only do so much to save water when you’re taking extremely long showers. Do your best to cut back on your bathing time by creating a five-minute playlist of a song or two. This way, you’ll know exactly how long you have before you should turn off the water.




How Much Do Utilities Cost in a Studio Apartment?

For someone looking for a cheap and easy living situation, studio apartments are a great alternative. If you don’t spend a lot of time at home and don’t have a lot of stuff, studio apartments offer a reasonable place to live at a reasonable price to crash, eat simple meals and get ready in the morning, especially for singles and students.

Aside from the lower rent, studio apartments can be more affordable with lower utility costs, as well. But how much do you actually save? How much is electricity for a studio apartment? How much is heating and cooling? What’s the difference in other utilities?

While studio apartments are technically any apartment with a single room (plus bathroom and kitchenette), they can vary from the smallest of living spaces to convertible studios to giant loft apartments. For our purposes, a studio apartment is the standard plan type, which in the U.S. averages between about 500 and 600 square feet.


If your apartment has building-wide radiator heating, consider yourself lucky. In most circumstances, your cost for this will be zero as it will be part of your rent.

If you have forced-air heating from an electric furnace or hot water boiler, that will be a big chunk of your electric bill during winter months if you live in a colder climate.

Fortunately, it won’t take as much to heat your small space. Depending on how cold it is outside and how well insulated your apartment is, in a space this small, an average of about $50 per month of your electricity bill will come from winter heating.

Not many studio apartments are heated by gas heat, even if your cook top is. While gas heat can be more efficient, the savings at this scale are negligible. You’ll still pay about $50 per winter month for heating, it will just come from a different bill.

Air Conditioning

In most of the U.S., air conditioning is only used between three and five months a year. And even then, with the exception of major heat waves, you can choose to not use AC at all and move the air in your apartment with a fan. In a studio apartment, you can really cool down your entire place with one oscillating table fan.

But if you do choose to use your air conditioning, it’s either coming from a forced-air unit (central air) or a window unit. Both use electricity to run. The average cost of running an air conditioner in a typical house is about about $120 a month. For the size of a studio, imagine about a third or fourth of that, say around $30-40 per month added to your electric bill during the summer with central forced air.

Window and wall AC units make a lot of noise and blow a lot of air, both of which take a lot of electricity (and often isn’t well insulated). When it all shakes out, a window unit will cost close to the same as central air. For your room size, figure about $30-40 per month in the summer, as well.

If you’re fortunate enough to have a ceiling fan in your studio, your cooling costs will go way, way down. And for those in a warm climate, your savings in heating will probably be offset by your cost in cooling.


Aside from the costs of heating and cooling, you’ll also probably use less electricity in a studio apartment simply due to having fewer electronic items in use. You have fewer lights, most likely only one television and smaller appliances in an efficiency kitchen.

Depending on your personal use, how energy efficient your lights and appliances are and how careful you are about turning them off when not in use, your electricity bill can vary, but not too widely. Some estimates of a typical apartment average (without heating and cooling) around $65. With the smaller footprint of a studio, it may be even cheaper.

Internet, cable, water and more

For nearly all other utilities, you’re going to pay the same amount regardless of how big or small your apartment.

Whether you’re in a spacey two-bedroom or in your studio, you’ll probably have one shower, one bathroom sink and one kitchen sink. Depending how long you take in the shower and if you have a dishwasher, an average monthly apartment water bill is around $40.

Similarly, you’ll have one internet provider and one television requiring cable service (and possibly one landline connection). Depending on if you have basic cable and an average internet speed or all the premium channels and high-speed internet packages, the average cable and internet bundle bill can come in around $100-$150 per month.

Even if you’ve cut the cable cord, the cost of internet plus Netflix, Hulu and HBO Now are going to run you about the same (unless you’re borrowing all the passwords from friends).

There are also several other utilities that contribute to your overall monthly budget. Cooking gas, if you have it, can be around $10 a month. Trash and recycling, if you pay for it, can run around $10 monthly. And depending on your building, items like sewer and parking can add to your final tab.

Varied costs by geography

The total cost of utilities for an apartment can vary widely by what you have and what you use. Heating and cooling can fluctuate depending on your latitude. Your cable and internet can differ greatly depending on how much TV you want to watch. A simple thing like switching out incandescent bulbs for LEDs can lower your electric bill. Electricity has different costs in different states, and there are tricks you can do to save on your utilities anywhere.

And of course, a major factor is cost of living in different cities. The average utility bill for any sized apartment in Dallas is $139.29, while in Philly it’s $150.06, so the best thing to do is research in your area.

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