Improving the Water-use Efficiency of the Shower Head

The bathroom shower is major contributor to water usage in the American home.  But in the future, that need not be the case.


A Dymaxion bathroom (circa post-WWII), designed by Buckminster Fuller, was equipped with “fog gun” hot water vapor shower that was designed to use only a cup of water to hygienically and soaplessly clean the body.

While in the Navy, Fuller had noticed that wind-driven fog kept the topsides of his ship – and his face – remarkably clean.  It even cut grease.  The ‘fog gun’ is a device that uses a jet of compressed air mixed with a small amount of finely atomized water to blast the dirt off dishes, laundry, and, yes, people.  For most purposes, no soap is needed.

An (allegedly) satisfying shower takes approximately a cup of water.  I say allegedly, because many who tried a commercial air-blast shower haven’t like it.  When confronted with this lack of enthusiasm, Fuller replied that his fog gun used a finer spray, and performed as claimed.  In any case, the idea is a good one, as it saves both water and energy.  Unfortunately, it didn’t catch on.

Perhaps a worthy evolution from the fog gun, is the modern Nebia, a shower head that alleges to be “better in every way.  A superior experience, iconic design, and 70% water savings.”  Nebia is a fully self-installed shower system with an adjustable bracket and a portable wand that showers you with water in a way different from traditional show heads.  Nebia atomizes water into millions of tiny droplets with 10 times more surface area than your regular shower.  With Nebia, more water comes into contact with your body, leaving your skin clean and hydrated all the while using less water than a typical household shower head.  While expensive ($300-$400), for the average U.S. home, Nebia could pay for itself in less than two years.  And as the technology receives wider market penetration, the price is likely to come down.

Nebia Shower Head System

Nebia Shower Head System

A writer for tried the Nebia shower head system:

One second you’re totally dry, and the next you’re completely soaked. There isn’t any “getting into” the stream—you turn it on, and it’s like you’re standing inside a thick, soaking patch of mist. The pressure is light, almost skin-prickling, so you don’t so much feel it as just get enveloped by it. But the real test: Can it wash out shampoo? I’m happy to say yes it can; I didn’t have to return to the office with a head full of dried soap.

Enjoying a Nebia Shower Head

Enjoying a Nebia Shower Head

Too many water use projections are made without considering possible advances in in-house water conservation technologies.  As Nebia demonstrates, to assume no or slow advances in technology is wrong headed.

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