One of the least expensive ways to increase the efficiency of your home is to install low-flow aerators on your faucets. These devices save water, and lower utility bills as well, because less hot water is used. Because of this, low-flow aerators will generally pay for themselves in only a few months. Standard faucet aerators will allow flow rates of 2.5 – 5 gallons of water per minute. But for bathroom faucets, low-flow aerators that deliver 0.5 to 1 gallon (1.9 to 3.8 liters) of water per minute will deliver the same force of spray, but often in a more pleasing fashion. Kitchen faucets may require a higher flow rate of 2 to 4 gallons (7.6 to 15.1 liters) per minute if you regularly fill the sink for washing dishes. If you tend to let the water run when washing dishes, the lower flow rate of 0.5 to 1 gallon per minute may be more appropriate. Some kitchen aerators will allow you to flip between two flow rates without affecting the water temperature (see below).
Here are some figures on faucet water usage: 15% of an average household’s daily water consumption is through faucet use. In a family of four, where each person uses the bathroom sink for 6 minutes each day, using a 0.5 gallon per minute aerator (instead of a 2.5 gallon per minute aerator) would reduce the daily household water consumption by 48 gallons per day, which totals 17,520 gallons annually.
Here’s a video by USA Landlord that demonstrates how to install a typical low-flow aerator:
Let’s take a look at the most efficient aerators available:
Sink Faucet Aerator 0.5 GPM
This is a basic aerator which provides an even spray pattern, and uses only 0.5 gallons of water per minute. It is suited to bathroom sinks (e.g. where washing hands and brushing teeth take place). It’s a chrome-plated brass faucet aerator by Niagara Conversation. It’s available from Amazon for $1.50. Update, out of stock at Amazon — also available from USA Landlord and Energy Federation Incorporated.
Sink Faucet Aerator 1.5 GPM
Deluxe Flip Aerator
This bath or kitchen sink aerator has a fingertip on/off control lever, and it’s rated at 2.5 GPM. It allows you to temporarily slow flow of water while maintaining water temperature. This aerator is available from Amazon for $6.50. Also available at Amazon and EFI.
Deluxe Kitchen Swivel Aerator
This kitchen aerator is similar to the Deluxe Flip Aerator — it has a touch flow restrictor, but it also swivels, allowing you to clean the sink. It controls water flow to only 2.2 gallons per minute but with 60 psi.
High-Performance “Vacuum Flow” Aerator
This high-performance aerator uses the least amount of water, but it is also the most expensive. The aerator uses a vacuum flow “booster” valve where water is aerated and “compacted” under vacuum pressure. Because of the force of the vacuum chamber, the aerated water leaves the aerator in a powerful stream, but at a very low rate of consumption — 0.375 gallons per minute. Thus gives it the feel of an aerator that uses 3 – 5 times as much water. Also comes in 0.5 GPM and 0.7 GPM versions.
Available from SaveWaterUs for $24.95