Not satisfied with just regulating the design of air conditioners, battery chargers, boilers, ceiling fans, dehumidifiers, dishwashers, dryers, freezers, furnaces, heat pumps, light bulbs, refrigerators, toilets, and washers, the U.S. Department of Energy is cracking down on shower heads. In the words of the federal plumbing police: “It has always been the Department’s view that when Congress used the term ‘any shower head’ it actually meant ‘any shower head.’”
By this they mean that the statutory limit on the maximum flow of a shower head does not reflect the amount of water from each shower head in a plumbing apparatus, but the total from multiple shower heads in any one shower.
For nearly two decades, the department has treated each shower head in a fixture as, um, a shower head. However, the DOE last month notified shower head manufacturers that the flow restriction now applies to an entire shower fixture, and not just individual shower heads.
The low-flow mandate, prescribed in the Energy Policy Conservation Act of 1992, is a measly 2.5 gallons per minute (gpm) at 80 pounds per square inch of water pressure. (A dramatic reduction from the luxurious cascades of 5 gpm or even 10 gpm from shower fixtures that Americans once were permitted to enjoy.)
To demonstrate the agency’s regulatory muscle, DOE General Counsel Scott Blake Harris recently fined four shower head makers $165,104 for failing to demonstrate compliance with the shower head diktat.
Word of the crackdown has been conveyed via the department’s Showerhead Enforcement Guidance, which states, in part: “We cannot reconcile the view that a showerhead with multiple nozzles is actually multiple showerheads.”
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