Shower head"Feel-good" showers to cut your hot water bill

Changing to a water-efficient showerhead could cut your hot water bill considerably if you have a mains-pressure hot water system, according to Consumer New Zealand.

Consumer had eight people test seven water-efficient showerheads for the best combination of comfort (felt good) and effectiveness (got them clean), without heating up the power bill.

Their trials found three water-efficient showerheads “that came close to the perfect combination of comfort and effectiveness”.

Consumer reports that replacing a 12 litre per minute (L/m) showerhead with a water-efficient model that flows at 8L/m can cut your hot water bill by $153 a year.

Reducing shower flow by 4L/m could also save over 60 litres a day for an average household without sacrificing showering comfort*. Showers typically account for between a quarter and a third of household water use.

Test your shower’s flow rate

  1. Find a bucket or other open-topped container of 3-plus litre capacity, with volume markings down the side. Alternatively, use an unmarked container and a measuring jug
  2. Turn the shower on at your normal temperature and flow 
  3. Place your container under the showerhead, to catch all the flow, and time 10 seconds
  4. Check the amount of water in your bucket or container using the volume markings on its side (or with a measuring jug), to identify the shower’s flow volume for 10 seconds
  5. Multiply the 10-second volume by six, to give a ‘per-minute’ flow rate for your shower

Reduce the flow without replacing your shower

If you don’t want the expense of changing your mains-pressure showerhead, but want to save on heating costs and water use, you may be able to fit a flow restrictor to your existing shower. You can get a flow restrictor from plumbing suppliers for a few dollars; they’re easy to fit and could give you good savings. For advice about whether a flow restrictor is right for your shower, check your shower's current flow rate then talk to the staff at your nearest bathroom centre or plumbing supplies outlet.

Check out EECA's website for information on how to check your shower flow and how to install a flow restrictor.

* Based on the average number of showers per day and the average shower duration for February and March, Auckland Water Use Study, BRANZ and Watercare Services Ltd (Project EC1356), October 2008.