Now, with a new president in office, the Energy Department is going back to a standard adopted in 2013, saying it knows best how much water Americans need for a good soak and a thorough clean.
The rule change will have little practical effect, since nearly all commercially made showerheads comply with the 2013 rule — the pet peeve of the former president notwithstanding.
The Energy Department said the action clarifies what’s been happening in the marketplace, thanks to government mandates. Showers that provide the extra supply of water desired by Trump are not easily found, officials said.
Since 1992, federal law has dictated that new showerheads should not pour more than 2.5 gallons of water per minute. As newer shower fixtures came out with multiple nozzles, the Obama administration defined the showerhead restrictions to apply to what comes out in total. So if there are four nozzles, no more than 2.5 gallons total should come out among all four.
The Trump-era rule, finalized in December, allows each nozzle to spray as much as 2.5 gallons, not just the overall showerhead.
A proposed rule change, set to be published in the Federal Register next week, reverts to the Obama-era standard. The public will have 60 days to comment before a final rule is developed.
The change will ensure that consumers continue to save money while reducing water use and paying lower energy bills, the Energy Department said.
“As many parts of America experience historic droughts, this commonsense proposal means consumers can purchase showerheads that conserve water and save them money on their utility bills,” Kelly Speakes-Backman, acting assistant secretary for the department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, speaking as yet another authority who think Americans don’t know how to conserve resources and save money on their own.
While publicly joking about the need to keep his hair “perfect,” Trump made increasing water flow and dialing back longstanding appliance conservation standards — including for light bulbs, toilets and dishwashers — a liberty issue.
“So showerheads — you take a shower, the water doesn’t come out. You want to wash your hands, the water doesn’t come out,” Trump said at the White House last year. “So what do you do? You just stand there longer or you take a shower longer? Because my hair — I don’t know about you, but it has to be perfect. Perfect.”
But consumer and conservation groups said the 2020 rule change was silly, unnecessary and wasteful.
With four or five or more nozzles, “you could have 10, 15 gallons per minute powering out of the showerhead, literally probably washing you out of the bathroom,” said Andrew deLaski, executive director of the energy conservation group Appliance Standards Awareness Project. “At a time when a good portion of the country is experiencing serious drought exacerbated by climate change, there’s no place for showerheads that use needless amounts of water.”
Adapted from reporting by Associated Press.