Want to save money but still have a hot and powerful shower? We investigate water-saving shower heads and eco shower gadgets
You might assume that taking a shower is more water-efficient than taking a bath, but that’s not necessarily the case.
The electric showers we test typically have a water flow rate of around four litres per minute. At this rate, it would take around 10 minutes to fill a bathtub, whereas a more powerful mixer or power shower could easily fill a tub in five minutes. An eco shower head can be a great addition to a mixer and power shower, giving the feeling of higher pressure without actually using more water – meaning you can turn the dial down and save water.
Should you buy an eco shower head?
The shower head controls the flow and spray pattern of the water. They come in a range of shapes and sizes, and the design can directly affect water consumption. Here are some things to consider before buying:
To check whether you could cut your water usage, put a 2-litre container on the shower floor. If it takes less than 12 seconds to fill when the shower is running on full, that’s the equivalent of it putting out 10 litres every minute. If that’s the case, you could benefit from a low-flow or water-saving shower head.
A large and fixed shower head can’t be easily replaced with a new, more eco-friendly, head. It can also make a shower feel less powerful as the water is distributed over a larger area.
Aerating shower heads mix water with air, reducing the overall amount of water that’s needed. Other water-saving shower heads reduce the flow rate, ‘pulsate’ the water or include a flow regulator to the shower hose to save water.
Can you use an eco shower head with an electric shower?
Eco shower heads are usually not recommended for use with electric showers. Eco shower heads fitted with an integrated flow regulator help you save water by restricting the water flow. However, restricting water flow can lead to water building up in the heater tank, causing the shower to overheat.
For this reason, manufacturers often advise that you shouldn’t use eco shower heads on an electric shower, as this could damage the shower unit. Contact the manufacturer if you’re unsure. Electric showers are already water efficient, so you shouldn’t need to use an eco shower head with an electric shower anyway.
This is the type of shower where the hose and spray are attached to your bath. The temperature and amount of water are adjusted through the taps, giving you more control of the amount of water you use. This can be useful, as it gives you the freedom to reduce pressure and temperature, saving both energy and water.
An electric shower is essentially a water heater, which rapidly heats cold water as it flows towards the shower head. Many have eco modes that reduce the pressure, saving both energy and water for when you don’t need such a powerful shower. As part of our testing we try out every eco mode for the water flow and energy use. Our electric shower reviews reveal those with good eco modes.
Manual mixer showers
This is a popular and cost-effective shower, where the hose and spray come out of a wall unit and there’s a temperature control that mixes the hot and cold water supply. Depending on the pressure and temperature controls, it can be difficult to precisely and quickly adjust to save water and energy, so think about this before buying.