Joe Biden’s Department of Energy said Friday it is looking to undo a water pressure rule created by the Trump administration after the former president said he wasn’t getting wet enough in the shower.
Former President Donald Trump’s loosening of 2013 water flow standards, and Biden’s return to the 2013 standards, will have little practical effect, say observers. That’s because nearly all showerhead manufacturers ignored the change.
But DOE said the action clarifies what’s been happening in the marketplace. Showers that provide the extra supply of water desired by Trump are not readily available, it said.
Environmental advocate American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy said in a statement that even the lingering chance of industry change toward greater flow posed the risk of “wasting water” at a time when much of the western United States is in severe drought and wildfire risk remains worrying.
Energy Department officials also linked this reversal to the current drought headlines.
“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, said.
Officials estimated that the Obama-era rule saved households about $38 a year, and the Energy Department expects similar savings by reverting to the 2013 standard, the Associated Press reported.
Since 1992, federal law has dictated that new showerheads should not pour more than 2.5 gallons (9.5 liters) of water per minute. As newer shower designs featured multiple nozzles, the Obama administration in 2013 defined the showerhead restrictions to apply to how much water comes out in total. So if there are four nozzles, no more than 2.5 gallons total should emerge among all four.
The Trump-era rule, finalized in December, aimed to allow each nozzle to spray as much as 2.5 gallons, not just the shower’s total.
The public will have 60 days to comment before a final DOE rule is developed.
Showers were just one part of a series of proposed Trump DOE rollbacks on regulations limiting household water use, including for washing machines and dishwashers. Last year, the Competitive Enterprise Institute and other groups circulated a petition arguing that efficiency rules gobbled up too much time because formerly one-hour dishwasher cycles had turned into 2 1/2-hour jobs.
At the time of Biden’s inauguration, DOE had missed 28 legal deadlines for reviewing efficiency standards for products ranging from refrigerators to room air conditioners, and the agency has yet to complete those reviews, the energy-efficiency group ACEEE said in its Friday statement. Many more are coming due in the years ahead.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.