GPM is an important aspect when it comes to water-related fixtures like shower heads and faucets. Here’s a breakdown of what it is, why it’s important and how you can save money and water by adjusting the GPM of your household fixtures.
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What is GPM?
GPM stands for gallons per minute and refers to the number of water gallons coming out of a fixture per minute. When we talk about the flow rate of water, we’re essentially talking about its GPM.
This is an important consideration when purchasing water-related products like faucets, shower heads and filters. Even small adjustments in your water flow rate can correlate to significant water savings, which is why there are government regulations with restrictions to the GPM of certain products.
One of the most notable is shower heads. Since the 1990s, the accepted GPM for shower heads has declined, with manufacturers producing more water efficient shower heads in alignment with government mandates. Currently, the maximum allowed GPM for a showerhead is 2.5.
Why Shower Heads?
But why is this restriction for shower heads important? This is because even a slight reduction in the flow rate of shower heads can lead to dramatic savings in water and energy.
As the EPA outlines, almost 17% of indoor water use is due to showering. For the average household, that translates to about 40 gallons of water every day. That’s equivalent to about 1.2 trillion gallons of water used annually, which is equal to the total annual water consumption of both New York and New Jersey.
This brings us to the question:
How much water can you save by switching to a water saving showerhead?
If you shower for 10 minutes with a 2.5 GPM showerhead, that equates to 25 gallons of water. But if you switch to a 1.5 GPM showerhead, you reduce that number down to 15 gallons of water. That’s a mind-blowing saving of 10 gallons!
While the federal government mandates a maximum 2.5 GPM, some states have their own water flow regulations which are even lower.
For example, in 2018 California set a 1.8 GPM limit on shower heads, while several states including Colorado and New York City have a 2.0 GPM limit.
This means that some products are not for sale in certain states where strict water restrictions apply.
There are rebates and incentives on offer for those who install water saving fixtures. Also, apart from saving water, low-flow shower heads and faucets save you money on your water bills and are environmentally friendly. These alone are reasons enough to switch to low flow fixtures.
How to Choose the Right Shower Head
High-quality well-designed shower heads can give you a low flow rate while still maintaining the pressure and comfort of the shower.
To ensure that the product meets standards, look for the WaterSense label. This label certifies that the product meets the EPA criteria. On average, a WaterSense certified shower head:
- Uses no more than 2.0 GPM of water
- Ensures that the shower is satisfactory equal to regular shower heads
- Is about 20% more water efficient than other similar products
- Performs better than its average counterparts
- Saves water on a national level
- Helps you save money on your water bills
Shower heads range in water flow from 1.0 GPM to 2.5 GPM. Remember that for the product to have a WaterSense label, it needs to be less than 2.0 GPM. Here are the best shower heads in each GPM category:
The Bottom Line
Being aware of the water restrictions in your state as well as how these affect the products you purchase will help you to buy the right products for your home.
While GPM is an important factor and will help you to choose water-saving faucets and shower heads, there are other ways you can save water.
One of the best ways to reduce kitchen water usage is with a faucet aerator.
You can also find out more about WaterSense in our guide.