The U.S. Department of Energy announced recently that it is soliciting public feedback on the draft of its interpretation of the term “showerhead.” While the rule references dictionary definitions of the term, DOE’s resource-saving definition could impact shower design going forward. “The draft of the interpretive rule clarifies that a showerhead is any plumbing fitting that is desgined to direct water onto a bather, regardless of the shape, size, placement, or number of sprays or openings that it may have,” DOE says in its request for comment.

In further detail, DOE refers to its draft rule, which considers shower design and showerhead efficiency through the lens of the Energy Policy & Conservation Act (EPCA). The rule says that all shower components that are supplied standard together and function from one inlet (i.e., after the mixing valve) constitute a single showerhead for purposes of the maximum water use standards. This includes “accessory” water outlets, such as waterfalls and body sprays. EPCA’s maximum water use standard is 2.5 gpm at 80 psi.

DOE says it will “find a showerhead to be noncompliant with EPCA’s maximum water use standard if the showerhead’s standard components, operating in their maximum design flow configuration, taken together use in excess of 2.5 gpm when flowing at 80 psi, even if each component individually does not exceed 2.5 gpm.”

The clarified definition is designed to further’ EPCA’s goal of resource conservation by reigning in water use and improving the water efficiency of showerheads. DOE is accepting public comment on its definition until June 19. Comments and suggestions can be e-mailed to in Word, WordPerfect, PDF or text file format. All comments will be posted on in docket EERE-2010-BT-NOA-0016. At the end of the comment period, the draft rule will be adopted, revised, or withdrawn.

According to a recent Remodeling magazine Reader Panel, 50% of master bathroom remodels used only one showerhead, while a quarter (24.4%) used two, and 23% used a one showerhead plus at least three side sprays. In terms of design, remodelers said a third of their showerss (31%) use standard style shower sprays, while 27% use rainshowers, and 36.5% incorporate hand showers. Only 4% of respondents specified that they use low-flow showerheads.

Remodeling will continue to report on this bath industry development as manufacturer comments become available.