Does A Bigger Shower Head Use More Water? (Explained)

A foray into the world of bathroom renovations and a particularly pointed question regarding showerhead size got me wondering why there are so many different kinds of showerheads, what purpose do they serve (other than the obvious), and how (if at all) do they help conserve water. 

It is more about the type of showerhead you use and less about the size of the showerhead. Fortunately, most showerheads available these days come with their water flow mentioned on the box. 

How Much Water Is Used By A Standard Shower Head?

Did you know there’s a regulation that prevents showerheads from releasing more than 2.5 GPM (gallons per minute)? That’s right. So by any means, you’ll use 25 gallons of water over a ten-minute shower using a standard showerhead.

Can Shower Heads Save Water?

Every shower head comes with a different capacity to save water. For instance, a water-saving showerhead that releases only 2.0 GPM will save you 5 gallons of water during a ten-minute shower as compared to a standard showerhead. 

While that doesn’t sound like much, consider this. The EPA estimates that the average American household can save up to 2,700 gallons of water annually with this small fixture change. This means you save 70$ in utilities—water bills and energy consumption!

If you’re in the market for new showerheads, your options are limited to two categories:

Aerator Shower Heads 

An aerator showerhead helps you bring down water consumption by a whopping 50%. It increases the size of the water droplets by blending water with air. It doesn’t affect shower pressure—you’ll still enjoy a strong stream of water—but since air is being injected into the water, you can expect your water to feel cooler.

Non-Aerating Shower Heads 

These are also known as streamlined or laminar flow showerheads. The non-aerating version squeezes water out of smaller openings, giving a more massage-like feel to the water. These showerheads offer a number of benefits, such as reducing water release by 40%. And since these showerheads consume less electricity to heat water, they are incredibly pocket-friendly and energy-efficient.

Depending on the features you opt for, a low-flow showerhead can cost you anywhere between 8$ and 50$.

Do Large Shower Heads Use More Water?

The water utilization by showerheads has more to do with the type and less to do with the size of the showerheads. 

Conventional showerheads like a wall-mounted showerhead will use up to 2.5 gallons of water per minute, whereas a relatively advanced option like a low-flow showerhead would use 2.0 GPM. This means that you can save up to 20% water when you upgrade an older model with a new one. 

Rain or high-pressure showerheads are a few examples of showerheads that are larger in size compared to their older counterparts. However, they too use less water and save energy while guaranteeing you a unique shower experience. 

Does The Size Of The Shower Head Affect Pressure?

The pressure of water is not dependent upon the size of the showerhead. 

No matter how small or big the showerhead’s size, the pressure is determined by the showerhead’s design and the plumbing system by which it is supported. 

Showerheads with bigger holes tend to use more water in comparison to showerheads with smaller holes. 

An old, outdated showerhead model with bigger holes will use 10 gallons more water than newer ones with water-saving technology and smaller holes or aerating capabilities.

Both small and large-sized showerheads hold the capacity to deliver a high-pressure showering experience as long as the right technology backs it. 

What Shower Head Puts Out The Most Water? 

A high-pressure showerhead puts out the most amount of water by promoting a heavy and powerful water flow. 

One of the biggest advantages of using a high-pressure showerhead is that the water flow rate coming out of these showerheads is low while the pressure remains forceful. Therefore, the amount of water utilized is one-fifth that of standard showerheads. 

Showerheads like Speakman’s Anystream offer a GPM of anywhere between 1.75 and 2.5, whereas Kohler’s Awakened goes as low as 1.5 GPM. The best part? You won’t be stuck with a trickle as the water plungers in the showerheads make the pressure quite intense.

How To Pick A Suitable Shower Head?

Features to consider before investing in a new showerhead:

  • Water-Saving – The first and foremost consideration when selecting a new showerhead is its water efficiency—the lower the GPM, the better.
  • Adjustability – Depending on your preferences and needs, pick a showerhead that offers features such as massage or spray patterns like pulse, cascading, intense streams, or combinations. You’ll also need to decide on convenience—for instance, if you have children, you might prefer a height adjustment feature
  • Showerhead Size – Do you prefer traditional compact showerheads or something fancier? While preference is key, don’t forget to check whether your chosen showerhead is compatible with your existing setup.
  • Installation Ease – Switching out an old showerhead for a new one is as simple as changing a lightbulb. Simply unscrew the old one and put the new showerhead in its place. Some models might require additional parts or fittings, though. For instance, if you opt for a panel showerhead with all the luxuries possible, you’ll need professional help with installation.
  • Design Options – Would you prefer a handheld or ceiling/wall-mounted showerhead? Single head or multiple heads with adjustable angles and rotation degrees? Would you prefer LED lights that change with water temperature? The options are endless. So do your research well and settle on a showerhead design that’s as functional as it is esthetic.
  • Type/Material – Showerheads are available in a range of materials such as plastic, stainless steel, brass, silicone, etc. You’ll also have options such as plastic or metal nozzles and connectors. While plastic is great for nozzles, metal is ideal for connectors. Most showerhead models have design features such as chrome or nickel polish, meaning you need to check the quality before purchasing.
  • Cleaning Ease – Yes, showerheads need cleaning from time to time as well, whether it’s to remove built-up salt and mineral deposit or grime.

Steps To Conserve Water While Showering

When you implement small steps to conserve and save water that goes into showering, you benefit from the lowered utility bills. Here are a few tips that will make you feel less guilty about your daily showers: 

  • Reduce the time you spend showering—considering a minute of shower can use between 1.5 to 2.5 gallons of water, think of all the water you can save by reducing your shower duration by just a few minutes. 
  • Replace your old, traditional showerheads with a new, low-flow one. You could also invest in a good mist shower that converts water into fine droplets, thereby lowering GPM.
  • Turn the showerhead off when you are applying shampoo or soaping up.
  • Adjust your shower valve settings to the lowest level.
  • Don’t tend to other chores after turning on the shower because the water to heat up—a distraction or forgetfulness could mean the shower is running longer than necessary.

Final Words

It can be surprising to know how much water goes into our daily showers. It has been estimated that a typical American family uses up to 40 gallons of water solely for the purpose of showering. Excessive water usage during showers contributes to the large bills thrown at us every month. Excessive water consumption is also an unsustainable practice that impacts the environment. 

In the end, it’s up to you to play your part by being aware of the amount of water you consume and being proactive in your conservation efforts.