How to install an energy-efficient shower head

Installing an energy efficient shower head reduces water use by 60%, saving money and maintaining pressure.

water-saving shower head

If you’re looking for a water-saving shower head, installing a shower head aerator is a good place to start. It’s an easy and affordable way to reduce your water consumption without sacrificing shower performance. These simple devices can cut your shower's water flow by up to 60%,1 leading to substantial savings over time.  

In this guide, we explain what shower head aerators are, how they work and provide step-by-step instructions for fitting one in your bathroom.

What is a shower head aerator?  

A shower head aerator is a small component that attaches to the end of your shower head. It mixes air into the water stream, breaking it up into a misty spray of tiny droplets. This aerating effect reduces the amount of water flowing through the shower head while maintaining good pressure and coverage.

How does a shower head aerator work?  

Aerators work using the Venturi principle of fluid dynamics. As water passes through the constricted areas and tiny holes of the aerator, it increases in speed. This creates a vacuum that draws in surrounding air through separate intake channels or holes. The air then mixes with the water stream, breaking it into millions of tiny air-filled droplets that disperse easily and maintain the feeling of high pressure.

This ‘aerated’ water stream provides the same coverage and rinsing ability you're used to, but while using far less water than a non-aerated shower head. The decreased flow rate translates directly into lower water usage and reduced energy costs for heating that water.

How to fit a shower head aerator  

Installing a water-saving shower head aerator is a simple DIY task that most homeowners can do themselves in just a few minutes:

  1. Remove your existing shower head by unscrewing it from the shower arm pipe using your hands or a tool like pliers if it’s stuck.
  2. Inspect the exposed threads on the shower arm. Most aerators will screw on directly, but some may need an adapter to connect properly depending on the thread size and type.
  3. If no adapter is needed, simply screw the new aerator onto the shower arm threads by hand. Rotate clockwise until secure but avoid over tightening.
  4. For aerators that insert into the shower head itself, you’ll need to first remove the head’s existing flow restrictor insert or aerator (usually by unscrewing or pushing out with a tool).
  5. Push or screw in the new aerator insert according to manufacturer instructions until secured inside the shower head.
  6. Reattach the shower head with aerator insert to the shower arm pipe.
  7. Turn on the shower and allow it to run for 30-60 seconds to clear any debris.
  8. Make any adjustments needed for ideal coverage and pressure. Some aerators have adjustment rings to control spray patterns, intensity and flow rates.
  9. That’s it. Check periodically to remove any mineral buildup from the aerator and ensure maximum performance.

Types of shower head aerators  

While basic screw-on aerator inserts are the most common, you can find a wide variety designed to fit different needs:

  • Flow restrictor disks are simple disks with small orifices to restrict flow rates without aeration. They provide lower flow but no pressure compensation.
  • Non-aerating spray nozzles direct flow restrictors that maintain the existing spray pattern rather than generating mist. There’s no pressure compensation.
  • Handheld aerators are designed to attach to handheld shower wands. They provide aeration while allowing for directed spray control.
  • Adjustable aerators allow you to dial in the degree of aeration or flow rate from low to high flow with the twist of an adjustment ring.
  • Massaging aerators create a uniquely pulsating misty stream designed to provide a massaging effect for aching muscles.
  • Self-cleaning aerators feature flexible rubber vents or grooves to minimise calcium and mineral buildup from hard water that can clog spray channels.

Where to buy a shower head aerator

You can find basic aerator kits at most hardware stores, home centres and plumbing supply outlets. For the widest selection to match your specific shower head and preferences, online retailers like Amazon UK offer hundreds of options, while the likes of B&Q also have different types of aerators.  

How much does a low-flow shower head cost?  

A basic low-flow fixed shower head costs £10-£30,2 while a handheld low-flow wand will set you back around £25-£45.3 For features like adjustable spray patterns, pause functions and handheld or fixed head combos, expect to pay £30-£60. High-end low-flow shower heads with premium aeration, massage settings and sleek finishes can exceed £100.  

How much water does a shower head aerator save?  

The typical standard shower head uses around 12 litres of water per minute (l/min).4 An aerating shower head can reduce flow rates to six litres per minute or less while still delivering a strong, soaking shower.5

For the average eight-minute shower, that's 48 litres of hot water saved per shower. With daily use by a family of four, installing low flow aerating shower heads could save over 70,080 litres of water per household annually. Those water savings also translate directly into lower energy costs and more efficiency for heating all that water.

At today’s average residential rates, the £100-£200 per year in combined utility savings can allow a shower head aerator to pay for itself in just a few months.


Is a shower head aerator worth it?  

Absolutely. For very little cost and effort, aerators provide an easy way to significantly reduce your water usage and energy costs for heating that water. The savings achieved allow many quality shower head aerators to pay for themselves within just a few months of installation.

Which shower head aerator is best?

More expensive models offer premium features like adjustable flow rates, anti-clog rubber vents for hard water areas and massaging spray settings. But even a basic £5-£10 aerator can provide substantial water savings compared to a standard non-aerating shower head.  

Can you fit a shower head aerator yourself?

Yes, shower head aerators are very easy for most DIYers to install themselves. Basic screw-on models simply attach to the existing shower arm pipe with no tools required beyond some pliers or an adjustable spanner if the connection is stuck. Insert-style aerators are only slightly more involved but typically just require you to unscrew or pop out the existing flow restrictor first.  

Does a shower head aerator really work?  

Aerators do reduce water flow rates, which saves on your water usage and costs for heating that water. However, they compensate for lower flow by aerating the water stream into millions of fine droplets. This allows them to maintain excellent pressure and coverage, so most users won’t notice any drop in shower performance despite the lower flow rate.  

What's the best water saving shower head?  

There are many quality low-flow models on the market that can reduce water usage by 60% or more while providing outstanding shower performance. Top rated and consumer favourite water saving shower heads come from brands like Hansgrohe, Mira Showers and Methven which use aeration along with precision spray nozzle technology.

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