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The US Department of Energy (DOE) announced a final rule today that will allow for showerheads that use an unlimited amount of water. DOE developed the rule in response to President Trump’s repeated complaints about his personal experience with showerheads.
Separately, the Department also announced a final rule that will exempt some clothes washers and dryers from current energy and water efficiency standards, allowing these products to use unlimited energy and, for washers, unlimited water, too. (Read today’s ASAP blog post on the washer/dryer rule.)
For showerheads, existing rules allow a flow rate of up to 2.5 gallons of water per minute. Today’s final rule changes the definition of showerhead so that each nozzle can use 2.5 gallons of water per minute. A product could have any number of nozzles.
“Changing the rules to address one of President Trump’s pet peeves is simply silly,” said Andrew deLaski, executive director of the Appliance Standards Awareness Project. “Thousands of showerhead models on the market today meet the standards that Congress set way back in 1992 and provide a great shower.”
While some showerheads sold in the 1990s had poor performance, manufacturers retired those models long ago in favor of new technology (pressure-compensating valves) that provides a consistently strong shower. Reviews from Consumer Reports and Wirecutter show that many showerheads provide excellent performance even at flow rates lower than allowed by federal law. Many states, especially those in dry regions, have standards that are stricter than the federal limits. (See ASAP blog post on the proposed rule for more details.)
Opponents of the final rule include showerhead manufacturers and the association that represents plumbing and mechanical contractors, inspectors, engineers, code officials, water and energy experts, and manufacturers of plumbing, mechanical, and building products as well as water utilities, water conservation groups and consumer groups. Unlimited flow showerheads not only waste water, but they also contribute to climate change because of the fossil fuels burned to heat the water used for showering.
“These last-minute Trump rules that allow for products that needlessly waste energy and water are ridiculous and out of step with the climate crisis and the long-term drought facing much of the country,” said deLaski. “The Biden administration can and should promptly reverse them.”
Today’s final rules undercutting energy and water conservation standards for showerheads, clothes washers, and clothes dryers add to a series of Trump administration assaults on efficiency standards including the rollback of light bulb standards and a rewrite of the DOE process for setting standards that will make it harder for the Biden administration to update standards. The Trump administration has failed to update a single standard in four years while missing more than two dozen legal deadlines for considering updating them.