Install Low Flow

Replacing old fixtures with low-flow models like toilets, showerheads and faucets can pay for itself in water and energy savings.  Installing new low flow shower heads alone can save Americans almost $5 billion in water and heating costs!

Medium
Households: 0 completed, 0 committed
1590
Points ?
$130
Annual Savings
$5 - $300
Upfront Cost
These are estimates
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Energy and water savings

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0
kWh Electricity
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0
Therms Natural Gas
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0
Gallons Gas
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15900
Gallons Water
  • Save precious water resources
  • Save energy and money

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Overview

The Action
We will install low flow toilets, shower heads or faucet aerators.
Is this action for me?
If you own your home, this action is for you. If you rent, low flow shower heads or faucet aerators are low cost and will pay for themselves in savings. Check with your landlord before doing any upgrades.
When and Who?
This action can be done anytime. DIY? Maybe, depending on your comfort with home improvement projects. Faucet aerators and shower heads are pretty easy to replace, toilets require a bit more skill.
How long will it take?
Medium - a bit of time to find the right model and time for install.
What is the cost?
around $5 each for faucet aerators, $10 - $50 or more for water efficient shower heads and $100 - $300 or more for low flow toilets. Add $100 - $200 install costs per toilet for professional install.

Benefits

  • Save precious water resources

  • Save energy and money

Resources

Financing

Weatherization services & energy-efficiency upgrades for low-income homes.

Programs

Sign up for a No-Cost Green House Call with CYES and start saving energy.

The Basics

Installing low-flow shower heads, faucets, and toilets is a fast and easy way to save water and money. Toilets alone are one of the biggest water users in the house, using up to 30% of all household water use. Making the switch to low flow toilets can save up to 13,000 gallons of water a year for a family of four.

Checklist

Figure out if you need a low flow showerhead
Install a low flow showerhead
Check to see if you need faucet aerators
Install faucet aerators
Find out if your toilets are low flow
Install low flow toilets

Go low flow

Going Low Flow does not mean low pressure or a reduced functionality.  What is does mean is significant water and energy savings with reduced hot water use.  There are three main ways to go low flow - with your showerhead, faucets and toilets.  Look for the WaterSense label when you purchase to find which items meet the EPA water savings criteria.  Here are a few tips for each one below.

Low flow showerheads

Showering is one of the top home water uses, up to 20% of indoor water use.  Installing a low flow showerhead is easy to do and can save significantly on both water and energy use.  A low flow showerhead does not reduce the pressure, only the flow rate so you should still be able to enjoy a good shower.  Since 1992 flow rates have dropped by more than half.

Depending on which model you purchase, a low-flow showerhead can have a flow rate of 2.0 or less.  Low-flow shower heads don’t have to be expensive they start around $10 and go up from there and pay for themselves quickly.  The average family can save up to 3,000 gallons of water and $50/year by going low flow!

How do I know if I need to install a low flow showerhead?  To test your current showerhead try this: first, get a bucket and place a mark at the one gallon line.  Turn the shower on to your preferred showing pressure, then place the bucket under the water.  Now, count the seconds it takes to reach the mark. If the mark is reached in less than 20 seconds, you will benefit from switching to a low-flow.  Installing a new low flow showerhead is easy and you can probably do the job yourself.  Check out this video on how to do the install.

Install a low-flow faucet, or faucet aerator

Standard faucets have a flow rate of over 2, while newer models have a low-flow rate of 1.5 or even less.  To save water, you can install new faucet hardware or, even easier, install or replace your faucet’s aerator.  What is an aerator?  It is a small round device that screws into the end of your faucet, right where the water comes out.

Faucet aerators are very easy to replace and install, just unscrew the old one and take it to your local hardware store to find the correct replacement.  They come in different sizes, flow rates and some thread types.  Make sure you purchase the correct one for your faucet.  When removing the old aerator, make sure to also remove the rubber gasket inside or the new one will not fit.  Here is a video on installing a faucet aerator.

If you have aerators now on your faucet, check to make sure they are working properly.  If the water is running slow or the faucet seems to not be working properly, this could be because the aerator is broken or clogged.  It is possibly to clean them out, however if it is damaged it is much easier to replace than repair.  If your aerators are old, then installing a new one will likely save water and could also improve your water flow.  This is a very inexpensive investment, most faucet aerators cost around $5/faucet or less and could save up to 30% of your water use in the kitchen and bathroom and save money on your water heating bill!

Low flow toilet

Toilets are the biggest water user in the house.  Older toilets can use up to 6 gallons per flush where newer higher-efficiency toilets use 1.6 gallons or less!  If you have older toilets, you can save up to $100 per year on water costs.  Since toilets last a long time, you will enjoy this annual savings for many years!  There are a few different kinds of low flow toilets including dual-flush models which allow you to choose one button for liquids and one for solid waste.  The liquid flush uses less water providing even more savings.

How do I know if my current toilets are low flow?  Starting in 1994, all new toilets were required to use no more than 1.6 gallons per flush.  If your toilets are older than 1994, they should likely be replaced.  However, if you’re not sure when they were installed, you can look in the tank for a make and model number and look it up online or call the manufacturer.  If your toilets are older and you decided to upgrade, a plumber is recommended to do the install.  A new toilet can run from $100-300 or more, adding in the cost of the plumber for installation, this can run $200-500 per toilet or more.  If you decided to go toilet shopping yourself, here are a few tips on purchasing.

If you can’t afford new toilets now or if you just want to further improve the efficiency of your low flow toilet there are a couple of tricks to try.  Placing a small, filled water bottle with the cap on or a small fake brick into the tank for water displacement can save water.  Don’t use a real brick - they can erode causing a blockage in your toilet!  Consult a professional to make sure this is a viable tactic for your specific model of toilet.

Find and fix leaks

While you are replacing shower heads and toilets, look for leaks!  Find out more on the Finding and Fixing leaks action.