Sacramento, California - In response to the state's historic drought and to prepare for the next one, the California Energy Commission approved new standards for showerheads today. The standards are expected to save more than 2.4 billion gallons of water in the first year and 38 billion gallons after full stock turnover in 10 years. The commission also voted to change the start date for the recently adopted standard for lavatory faucets.

"Faucets and showers make up nearly 40 percent of residential indoor water use," said Commissioner Andrew McAllister, the Energy Commission's lead on energy efficiency. "We are hoping for the best, but planning for the worst in the face of the state's historic drought. It is clear that we need to push the envelope to save water and energy while also ensuring it makes sense for consumers and the marketplace."

Details on the new standards:

  • The current California showerhead standard is 2.5 gallons per minute. CalGreen code, the California plumbing code and the voluntary WaterSense specification are all 2.0 gallons per minute. Standards adopted today require that all showerheads not exceed 2.0 gallons per minute maximum flow rate. This applies to fixed and handheld showerheads as well as horizontal body sprayers manufactured on or after July 1, 2016. To increase water savings over time, the standard for showerheads will change to 1.8 gallons per minute maximum flow rate starting July 1, 2018 – making this the most stringent standard in the country.
  • In April, the Energy Commission adopted a standard of 1.2 gallons per minute flow rate for residential lavatory faucets, among other water appliances, that would have taken effect Jan. 1, 2016. Commissioners voted to change the current standard of 2.2 gallons per minute flow rate to 1.5, effective September 1. The Energy Commission also voted to implement the 1.2 gallon per minute flow rate on July 1, 2016. The changes are in response to manufacturers who said they would not be able to supply retailers with enough 1.2 gallons per minute lavatory faucets on January 1, but have 1.5 gallons per minute models available today.

Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. issued an executive order in April of this year, which ordered the California Energy Commission to establish standards that improve the efficiency of water appliances available for sale and installation in new and existing buildings. The executive order gave the commission emergency authority to adopt the standards today, rather than through a lengthier process. Nonetheless, there has been opportunity for public involvement at commission meetings, a workshop and through a public comment period in July.

Other actions
The Energy Commission approved grants under its Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program of $2.4 million to build and test seven- zero-emission, hybrid fuel-cell, freight-size trucks to transport cargo at the Long Beach and Los Angeles ports; $1.2 million to expand testing of the entire plug-in electric vehicle fleet at Los Angeles Air Force Base and upgrade software to determine if vehicle-to-grid technology can be applied to larger fleets and to vehicles at homes; and $500,000 for advanced vehicle technology apprenticeship training through California Community Colleges and the California Employment Development Department, with emphasis on veterans and disadvantaged residents.

The Energy Commission also approved loans for energy efficiency upgrades through the Energy Conservation Assistance Act, a zero or low interest loan program providing funds to public entities. The city of Santa Cruz received a $1.8 million one percent interest loan to install more efficient interior and exterior lights, as well as to make improvements to a heating, ventilation and air conditioning system. Montague Elementary School District received a zero percent interest loan for more than $400,000 to upgrade interior and exterior lighting, upgrade the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, and to install an onsite 40 kilowatt photovoltaic system at the district's elementary school in Siskyou County.