The Energy Geek Video: American Standard FloWise Shower Head

American Standard FloWise Shower Head

Generic low-flow shower head

I admit it, I don’t often get excited about water saving. In the past, you may have used those crappy little low-flow shower heads that seemed to spray a mist of water rather than a nice shower. Those things set back the entire industry for years.

Shower heads today are a different story. I recently read some great reviews on Amazon.com about the American Standard FloWise shower head. This convinced me to give it a shot.

I bought the FloWise for about $40 on Amazon. I’ve added it to my store now that I’ve played with it and know it’s a “Geek-worthy” product.

Rather than just re-type everything I spent time producing in video, I’ll just give you a summary:

FloWise shower head

  • Cost about $40
  • Works great. Low-flow at 1.5 GPM (gallons per minute). Full-flow at 2.0 GPM
  • Saves about 40% on your shower water usage
  • Depending on your water heating costs, it will pay for itself in two years or less. In my case, it’s under a year. If you have kids who take long showers, it will pay for itself in less than 6-months.
  • Caveat: if you have really long, thick hair, this might not be for you. But for most people, it will work great.

Follow-up: Usage Recomendations

Having now had the opportunity to use this more, I wanted to give some usage recommendations so that you get the most out of your hot-water saving shower head.

First, be aware that when you first turn on the shower, it’s going to take longer for the shower water to get warm because there’s less water moving through the pipes. If you’re moving from an old, non-water saver head to this one, you may think something is wrong because it takes so long.

Whenever you take a shower, the water has to get all the way from your water tank to your shower, so if your old shower had moved 4 GPM and this one move 1.5 GPM, it’s going to take almost three times as long for that water to arrive. This can be a bit frustrating and it will make you feel like it’s wasting water when in fact both will use exactly the same amount.

In order to minimize the wait, I suggest turning the water on full hot initially and setting the shower head to one of the turbo modes. This will do several things. First, the hot water will heat up the pipe faster because more hot water will be flowing through the pipe. Second, it will get to the shower faster because just the hot water is running and because the shower head is letting more water through. Just remember to turn it to a comfortable temperature before you get in!

Next, and this is probably obvious, for most efficient water usage, use the shower on the default, low flow setting when you’re just rinsing your body and doing general cleaning. But when you wash your hair, you’ll probably want to turn it to one of the turbo modes to make it easier to rinse the soap out. I’ve got pretty long hair for a guy and for me it works pretty well. But like I suggested in the video, if there’s someone in the household with long hair, they might not find the amount of water to be satisfactory. Fortunately, my wife and I have separate showers, so she can have her own shower head and I can have mine!

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Corroding pipes, part 2 – proof!

Remember when I said that you should never, ever connect copper pipes to a steel water heater because this would cause your pipes to rot out and ruin your water heater? Well, at the risk of ruining my new miniature water heater, I purposely piped it the way 99% of the plumbers and HVAC technicians do to prove a point. Yes, it’s like volunteering yourself for medical research, but sometimes you have to make a point dramatically!

Take a look at the photo of the cold water supply line to my two week old water heater. I used a nice, galvanized pipe coupler to adapt the water heater’s connection to the 3/4” copper fitting. I then slathered the fitting with “pipe dope” – a substance used to create good connections when fitting pipe.

Already, after just two weeks, there’s a spot of rust dripping down the coupler. Remember – galvanized pipe isn’t supposed to rust under normal conditions. But this isn’t a normal condition! This is a living nightmare for the steel coupler because there’s a copper pipe screwed on it. Under this condition, we are guaranteed to get galvanic corrosion.

Just to make a point, I’m going to let the pipes corrode for a week or two more before installing the proper dielectric coupling. I’ll post some more pictures after I take it apart so you can see what has happened.

In the meantime, go to your utility room and see if you have a fitting like this with a copper pipe connected to your water heater. If so, it’s probably already started corroding. If it hasn’t, you’re lucky! It might just be that the plumber put so much teflon tape on the fitting that there’s no steel to copper contact. But you really can’t count on that.

At the end of the day, it’s futile to try to argue with physics. Spend a few dollars and get the proper couplers. You’ll thank me in a couple years when you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars replacing your water heater and your pipes!