The Trump administration wants to change the definition of a showerhead to let more water flow, addressing a pet peeve of the president who complains he is not getting wet enough.
Publicly talking about the need to keep his hair “perfect”, Donald Trump has made increasing water flow and dialling back long-standing appliance conservation standards — from light bulbs to toilets to dishwashers — a personal issue.
But consumer and conservation groups said the Department of Energy’s proposed loosening of a 28-year-old energy law that includes appliance standards is “silly”, unnecessary and wasteful, especially as the western US bakes through a historic two-decade drought.
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 restrictions to apply to what comes out in total, so if there are four nozzles, no more than 2.5 gallons should come out between all four.
The new proposal would allow 2.5 gallons from each nozzle.
With multiple 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.
On the White House South Lawn in July, Mr Trump made the issue personal, complaining: “So showerheads — you take a shower, the water doesn’t come out. You want to wash your hands, the water doesn’t come out. 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.”
Mr deLaski and officials at Consumer Reports said there has been no public outcry or need for change. The Department of Energy’s database of 12,499 showerheads showed 74 per cent use two gallons or less water per minute, which is 20 per cent less than the federal standard.
“Frankly it’s silly,” he said. “The country faces serious problems. We’ve got a pandemic, serious long-term drought throughout much of the West. We’ve got global climate change. Showerheads aren’t one of our problems.”
Energy Department spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes said the 2013 Obama definition of a showerhead clashes with what Congress intended and the standards of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.
If the rule is changed, Ms Hynes said it would be “allowing Americans — not Washington bureaucrats — to choose what kind of showerheads they have in their homes”.
Appliance and plumbing energy and water conservation standards save consumers about 500 dollars (£382) a year on energy bills, Mr deLaski said, and if people are having trouble getting water flowing in their shower, they should check their home’s water pressure and can replace a faulty showerhead for a small amount.
Mr deLaski said he has a hard time understanding Mr Trump’s concerns, adding: “If the president needs help finding a good shower, we can point him to some great consumer websites that help you identify a good showerhead that provides a dense soak and a good shower.”