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Is the DOE Confused As We Are About This Showerhead Debate?

August 6, 2010
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The latest published statistics on the consumption of our planet's water resources read like this...

Joel Bogart     

The latest published statistics on the consumption of our planet's water resources read like this:  

Agricultural - 69%  
Industrial - 23%  
Residential - 8%                                   

That being the case, which segment would it make the most sense to regulate?  

Oh, that's right - the terms "government" and "sense" don't often work that well together. How else are we to conclude the Department of Energy's new proposed interpretation of a showerhead that says: "All components that are supplied standard together and function from one inlet (in other words, all the showering devices fed by the same mixing valve) form a single showerhead for purposes of the maximum water-use standards." So no longer are we limited to shower output devices that deliver no more than 2.5 gpm individually - now 2.5 will be the maximum allowed for all the outlet devices in one shower collectively.  

The reasoning here seems to be that people will always use all these outlet devices at the same time. Well, if there are a bunch of body showers, maybe - but what about the more common installation that uses a fixed showerhead and a handheld type? Do folks typically run those both at the same time?  

Challenged on their reasoning and even the confusing language used, the D.O.E. has since told us that perhaps what they really mean is that there must be a means to prevent multiple outlets operating at the same time. And what that really means is more valving and more expense to the consumer (and I guess we can still say goodbye to multiple body showers unless they deliver a mist-like discharge).  

The constant lowering of the bar when it comes to allowed residential water usage over the past 25 years really makes you wonder what these guys in Washington will come up with next to squeeze the fat out of our bloated 8% segment. An unrecognized reality of showering that can completely negate any conservation provided by restrictive flow rates is the duration of the shower taken.

Do people who get less out of their showerhead take longer showers? If so, what do we do about that - install timers? And, really, why do we have to have both a lavatory and a bathing fixture in the same bathroom? Now that I think of it, the little space they call a "bathroom" in one of my regular Ugandan hotels has a spigot on the wall and a floor drain, and somehow I get by. And to further save on resources there, the water isn't heated - unless you wash up in the afternoon after the sun has done its job on the roof storage tank.  

But let's not stop there - how about lighting in our homes - why don't we just limit folks to one lamp using one bulb per room? (Only kidding, gang - please, please don't forward these ideas to the D.O.E.)  
Pardon my rant to kick off this issue - and hey - there's always a plus to every situation like this - my stock in a couple of deodorant companies is going through the roof.

The Seinfeld Episode That Started All This


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DOE clarification

Owen Howlett
August 13, 2010
The language of the DOE clarification has always allowed for multiple heads as long as they're valved so that the 2.5 rate isn't exceeded. There's wouldn't be much point in having a max flow rate unless this were the case. The data on shower duration shows that people do take slightly longer showers at lower flow rates, but not enough to significantly reduce the energy and water saved by the lower flow shower. Just saying that homes only account for 8% of water consumption isn't a good rationale for inaction. State and federal governments are looking for all cost-effective ways to reduce energy consumption. If low cost ways can't be found, then we'll all end up paying higher taxes or utility bills to pay for renewable energy.



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