New DOE regulations target water-hogging showerheads

The U.S. Department of Energy wants to outlaw luxury shower fixtures because they waste too much water and energy. Owners are balking at the concept.

New enforcement of federal energy- and water-use regulations has ignited a war over a most unlikely prize: your morning shower.

U.S. Department of Energy regulators are going after those luxurious, multi-nozzle, rain-like shower fixtures that you've told yourself you'll buy one day but never plunked down the cash to do so, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

The reason? Some of those showerheads manage as much as 12 gallons of water per minute, violating a 1992 federal law saying that a showerhead can deliver no more than 2.5 gallons per minute at a flowing water pressure of 80 pounds per square inch.

The rub: for years, manufacturers considered each nozzle a separate "showerhead." Group a bunch of nozzles together, and you're suddenly pumping a lot more water than the spirit of the law would indicate.

But in May, the DOE defined "showerhead" to incorporate "one or more sprays, nozzles or openings." In other words: all nozzles are counted together, rendering some of those rain-like showerheads noncompliant with the 2.5 gallons-a-minute maximum.

Along with the reaffirmed definition, the DOE fined four showerhead makers $165,104 in civil penalties in May for failing to demonstrate compliance for some of their products.

Supporters of the law say the regulation must be enforced because wasting water means wasting energy.

The Journal elaborates:

Each multi-head shower fixture uses an extra 40 to 80 thermal units of energy per year, equivalent to 50 gallons of gasoline, or one barrel of oil.

The DOE says most homeowners use compliant showerheads, and it affects just five percent of the population.

But manufacturers, retailers and homeowners are telling the government to get out of their bathrooms and stop limiting their choices.

What do you think?

Photo: Kohler's 10-inch traditional-style 2.5gpm "Rainhead"

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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