The average American family uses 40 gallons of water each day just from showering. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average family could save 2,700 gallons of water a year by switching to a certified low-flow shower head. These fixtures are designed to efficiently use a smaller volume of water, either by aerating the water steam or using a high-speed oscillation stream.
A water-saving shower head is not just an environmentally sound choice; it’s also a budget-friendly one. Because you’re using less water, you’ll save money on your water bill; you’ll also save the cost of the energy required to heat the water. The best low-flow shower head is one that uses less water but still emits a powerful spray. Read on for our recommendations for the best water-saving shower heads, and learn more about how to shop for these eco-friendly devices.
- BEST OVERALL: Kohler Forté 1.75 GPM 4-Function Shower Head
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: High Sierra’s Classic Fixed Shower Head
- UPGRADE PICK: Pulse ShowerSpas Kauai III Shower System
- BEST HANDHELD: Moen Engage 1.75 GPM Magnetix Handheld Shower Head
- BEST COMBINATION: Delta Faucet In2ition 2-in-1 Chrome Shower Head
- BEST SPRAY SETTINGS: Moen Attract 1.75 GPM Magnetix Rainshower Combo
- BEST HIGH-PRESSURE: Waterpik BodyWand Spa System With PowerPulse Massage
How We Chose the Best Water-Saving Shower Heads
The best water-saving shower heads save on the bills while not skimping too much on water pressure. No one wants a disappointing shower that can’t provide a relaxing blast of water. As such, we have gathered our top picks in this category to provide shoppers with a range of options to choose from according to their preferences.
When curating our list of recommendations, we looked at shower head types—such as fixed, handheld, and combination heads—and suggested our top picks in each category, which will ensure users get the best experience, no matter what type of head they’re looking for.
We made sure that our list includes only products that boast high-quality and durable materials, are easy to install and maintain, and have the ability to both save water and still provide a decent shower experience.
Our Top Picks
Our recommendations for the best low-flow shower heads consider flow rate, spray settings, style, and additional features—and of course, manufacturer reputation and overall product quality.
The Kohler Forté is an aerating shower head that incorporates 2 liters of air per minute into the water flow, which results in fuller water droplets that replicate the feeling of being caught in a powerful rainstorm. Because of its low 1.75-GPM flow rate, the Forté can even be used in states with particularly tight water restrictions, such as California.
Three flow settings on the shower head—full coverage, pulsating massage, and silk spray—each provide a unique sensation, and it’s easy to switch between settings by maneuvering the head’s thumb tab. It is available in a standard polished chrome finish. Installation is a breeze because its washers come pre-installed, meaning the shower head can be up and running in minutes.
- Type: Aerating
- Flow rate: 1.75 GPM
- Spray settings: 3
- Sleek, modern look; available in several finishes that match any current bathroom fixtures
- Aerating technology incorporates air into the water flow, resulting in fuller water droplets
- Great for low water pressure and states with tight water restrictions
- Has 3 flow settings: full coverage, pulsating massage, and silk spray
- Plastic parts can be fragile and may impact long-term durability
Get the Kohler water-saving shower head at Amazon, The Home Depot, Wayfair, Overstock, or Kohler.
High Sierra’s Classic fixed shower head produces a surprisingly powerful spray despite its affordable price. This low-flow model is available in four flow rate options (1.25, 1.5, 1.8, or 2 GPM), which allows households to choose the best option depending on their home’s water pressure.
Because all of this fixture’s parts are made from metal, it should be fairly durable and long lasting. One of the High Sierra’s only disadvantages is that it only has one spray setting, and it may be too powerful for some users (or for bathing young children). It’s available in chrome, nickel, oil-rubbed bronze, and polished brass finishes.
- Type: Low flow
- Flow rate: 1.25, 1.5, 1.8, or 2 GPM
- Spray settings: 1
- Surprisingly powerful spray emitted from such a compact, low-flow shower head
- Contemporary design and all-metal construction are durable enough for regular use
- 4 flow rate options available: 1.25, 1.5, 1.8, or 2 GPM
- Only 1 spray setting, which may be too powerful for some
Get the High Sierra water-saving shower head at Amazon, The Home Depot, or High Sierra.
There are many water-saving shower heads on the market, but most don’t come with the bells and whistles one may want for a luxurious shower experience. The Kauai III shower system from Pulse ShowerSpas, however, has both an 8-inch rain shower head and a multifunctional handheld head, which can be used together or separately. The hand shower has jet, wide, massage, and combination spray settings. What’s most impressive is that this fixture uses only 1.8 GPM. This shower is also available with a 2.5 GPM flow rate.
Though the design may look complex and difficult to install, it comes pre-plumbed so it’s possible to install without remodeling the entire shower. Along with chrome, the Kauai III is also available in brushed gold, oil-rubbed bronze, matte black, and brushed nickel finishes.
- Type: Aerating
- Flow rate: 1.8 or 2.5 GPM
- Spray settings: 5
- 2 shower heads, both an 8-inch rain shower head and a multifunctional handheld head
- High-quality and durable materials that all come preplumbed
- Versatile construction; heads can be used simultaneously as well as separately
- Available in multiple finishes, including brushed gold, oil-rubbed bronze, matte black, and brushed nickel finishes
- This luxurious shower experience comes at a higher price than other options
Get the Pulse ShowerSpas water-saving shower head at Amazon, The Home Depot, Wayfair, or Pulse ShowerSpas.
Handheld shower heads are a great choice for those with limited mobility, and this model from Moen complies with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) specifications. With the Engage magnetic docking system, gone are the days of trying to hook the shower head back on its dock while rinsing shampoo. Clicking the Moen’s head with hose attachment back into its magnetic base is super easy and requires minimal manual dexterity.
The shower head has impressive settings, including downpour, relaxing massage, regular massage, soothing massage, and rinse. With a 1.75 GPM flow rate, it complies with U.S. federal and state regulations. Because it only comes in chrome and brushed nickel finishes, it probably isn’t the best choice for those who want to coordinate with black, brass, or white fixtures in the bathroom.
- Type: Aerating
- Flow rate: 1.75 GPM
- Spray settings: 6
- ADA compliant; great for those users with limited or poor mobility
- Easy to use and store; features a magnetic docking system
- Has 6 spray settings: wide coverage; downpour, relaxing massage, regular massage, soothing massage, and rinse
- Pressure can be low when using certain settings, limiting the number of preferred options
Get the Moen Engage water-saving shower head at Amazon, Lowe’s, or Target.
Finding a high-quality, water-saving combination shower head isn’t easy because lower-flow water pressure feels even lower when the water is diverted between two heads. This Delta In2ition chrome shower head, however, provides a satisfying sensory experience using just 1.75 gallons of water per minute.
The handheld and fixed shower heads can be used simultaneously as one docked unit or separately, and the handheld piece is easily clicked into place using a magnetic connector. Spray settings include full body spray and full spray with massage as well as fast or slow massage. The fixture also has a pause function, which comes in handy when bathing kids or pets.
In addition to a chrome finish, Delta’s combination shower head is also available in spotshield brushed nickel and Venetian bronze.
- Type: Low flow
- Flow rate: 1.75 GPM
- Spray settings: 5
- Handy pause function is especially useful for saving water; great for kids and pets
- Available in 3 finishes: chrome, spotshield brushed nickel, and Venetian bronze
- Detachable handheld sprayer easily clicks into place with magnetic connector
- Some users have reported manufacturing defects; pause button can get stuck after heavy use
Get the Delta Faucet water-saving shower head at Amazon, Lowe’s, or The Home Depot.
Just because a shower head saves on water doesn’t mean that it can’t provide high pressure. For those who love high water pressure in their shower, the Moen Attract rainshower combo delivers. This model has a rainshower function and a handheld option that provides six different spray patterns.
The magnetic docking system on the handheld unit keeps the head in place when not in use and is easy to take on and off the dock. Plus, the handheld shower head comes with a pause button to cease the 1.75-GPM spray. The 6.75-inch rain shower head as well as the 3.75-inch handheld head are wide enough for ample coverage in the shower.
- Type: Low flow
- Flow rate: 1.75 GPM
- Spray settings: 1 rainshower option; 6 additional handheld settings
- Has a 6.75-inch rain shower head and a 3.75-inch magnetic handheld shower head
- Provides ample coverage; suitable for self-cleaning as well as cleaning the shower itself
- Installation is easy, requiring 4 quick steps to set up
- Available in 4 finishes: chrome, matte black, Mediterranean bronze, and spot-resist brushed nickel
- Some users report that the handheld showerhead’s locking system poses problems at times
Get the Moen Attract water-saving shower head at The Home Depot or Moen.
The Waterpik BodyWand spa system with PowerPulse massage option uses 1.8 GPM and offers seven different spray settings.
Rinse out shampoo and conditioner by using the body wand, which has soft comb and gentle rinse settings, then finish the hair regimen by engaging the scalp massage function. The rain shower head has four settings that will satisfy most sensory whims, from a gentle misting shower to powerful, pulsing massages—or a setting somewhere in the middle. Thanks to the fixture’s diverter, users can use the wand and rain shower head together or separately.
- Type: Aerating
- Flow rate: 1.8 GPM
- Spray settings: 7
- Compact and organized unit; dual shower head construction accommodates multiple washing purposes
- Easy-to-clean construction remains durable and shiny through multiple uses
- Soft comb, gentle rinse, and scalp massage functions are great for scalp and hair
- Some parts can squeak when moved, which can be disruptive
Get the Waterpik water-saving shower head at Amazon or Overstock.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Water-Saving Shower Head
A quality, water-saving shower head should use less than 2 gallons of water per minute but still produce a powerful stream of water. It should be easy to install, and complement your bathroom’s decor. Keep reading to learn about some of the most important qualities to consider when shopping for the best water-saving shower head.
Though it’s easy to assume that all shower heads work the same, several characteristics can affect their functionality. Shower heads generally fit into one of three categories, each with its own advantages.
- Fixed shower heads are mounted to the wall and vary in size and shape. They are usually the most affordable type of shower head, but they may or may not have adjustable spray settings. One type of fixed shower head is the rain shower head, which has a larger head than most and produces a gentle, sprinkling flow of water.
- Handheld shower heads are attached to the wall via a mounting bracket. This type of shower head has a long, flexible hose that can be unhooked from the wall and grasped in the hand, so the bather can direct water where they want it. When the head is kept in the bracket it functions as a fixed, hands-free shower head. Handheld shower heads are particularly useful for those with limited mobility, or those who want flexibility while bathing kids or pets. The price of handheld shower heads is usually higher than that of their fixed-head counterparts.
- Combination, or 3-way shower heads, have both a fixed and a handheld shower head. A 3-way diverter allows each of the two heads to be used simultaneously or independently. Because of water-flow rate regulations, however, water pressure is reduced when both heads are used at the same time.
Most shower heads have both metal and plastic parts. Those made from stainless steel or solid brass are the most durable and resist rusting and corrosion; fixtures with a lot of plastic parts are typically lower-end models. When shopping for water-saving shower heads, keep an eye out for those that have solid brass or stainless steel connectors because these materials will hold up better over time. The one part of a shower head where plastic is preferred to metal is the nozzle. Silicone nozzles require little to no maintenance and do not clog as easily as metal nozzles.
Whether your shower fixture contains silicone or stainless steel parts, it’s important to note that the materials the fixture is made of aren’t always obvious. Because metal and plastic parts can be finished with decorative coatings to complement various bathroom decor styles, plastic parts might look like chrome or brass parts like antique black. Be sure to research each model carefully to know what kind of quality you are getting.
There are two main types of low-flow shower heads: aerating and laminar-flow. Though each uses less water than a regular shower head, they compensate for the reduced water pressure in different ways.
- Aerating shower heads mix water and air to mimic the sensation of higher water pressure. Most low-flow shower heads on the market use this method to conserve water. One disadvantage of an aerating shower head is the aeration process cools water slightly before it hits your skin, so bathers may end up taking hotter showers—and paying more to heat the water—than they would otherwise.
- Laminar-flow shower heads use individual streams of water. They can be more expensive than aerating shower heads, but they’re ideal for use in humid climates because they create less steam and mist.
While standard shower heads are mandated by the U.S. Department of Energy to produce no more than 2.5 gallons of water per minute (GPM), low-flow shower heads are allowed to produce a maximum of 2 GPM. Products labeled with the Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense logo are certified to use less than 2 GPM.
The flow rates of most water-saving shower heads range from 1.5 to 2 GPM. Before you run out and buy the lowest-flow shower head you can find, however, think first about your home’s water pressure. The Environmental Protection Agency flow rates assume a water pressure of 80 pounds per square inch (PSI). If the water pressure in your home is lower than that, a low-flow shower head may not be the best option for you. Residences with very low water pressure might benefit from a high-pressure shower head instead.
Most shower heads on the market feature a variety of spray settings that emit water in different patterns. These settings can be changed by an adjustment ring or lever on the edge of the shower head.
- A massage or pulse setting eases muscle pain and tension.
- A low-pressure spray function is gentle and safe to use when bathing infants.
- A strong spray is useful for rinsing out shampoo and conditioner.
- A pause setting on handheld shower heads is useful when cleaning the shower, or when bathing children or pets.
- A combination setting mixes several spray patterns at once.
Shower heads come in a wide variety of different finishes. While the most basic models are only available with a stainless steel finish, many manufacturers make fixtures in oil-rubbed bronze, polished brass, chrome, brushed nickel, matte black, and other finishes. There are advantages and disadvantages to the various finishes too: fixtures with matte finishes are less likely to show water stains and fingerprints, while metals with high-shine finishes tend to be more durable over time. Most buyers want their bathroom fixtures to match and will choose a shower head that matches the tub and sink faucets, drawer pulls, and towel racks.
Though the idea of replacing or installing a shower head may sound intimidating, it’s actually an easy DIY project that requires fairly basic tools. A wrench, plumber’s tape and screwdriver is all you need to install most shower heads on the market; they don’t require drilling or installing mounting equipment.
Installing a low-flow shower head is really no different from installing a standard shower head. Because the size of shower spigots is standardized to 1/2 inch, compatibility between models should not be an issue.
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about water-saving shower heads.
Q. How much water can a water-saving shower head save?
According to the EPA, the average family saves 2,700 gallons of water per year by using a WaterSense-certified low-flow shower head.
Q. Does a bigger shower head use more water?
While shower heads with a larger surface area don’t necessarily use more water, they do result in the sensation of lower water pressure. That’s because the same quantity of water is spread out among a greater number of individual nozzles.
Q. How do you fix a leaking water-saving shower head?
A leaking shower head can be fixed using one of several techniques. A good place to start is by removing the head and soaking it in vinegar to remove hard water deposits, and replacing washers and seals that appear to be worn.
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