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Trump relaxed water flow limits to create more powerful shower heads, but Biden didn’t


“So the shower heads – you shower, the water doesn’t come out,” Trump said, complaining that conservation standards led to an unsatisfactory showering experience

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Donald Trump’s quest for “perfect” hair may last a lifetime, but the former president’s hope of achieving that goal by changing U.S. showerhead requirements has come to an end.


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The Department of Energy has overturned a Trump-era rule increasing the amount of water that can be used in a shower by allowing multiple nozzles to carry equal amounts of water at once.

By closing the loophole on Tuesday, Biden officials reinstated a 2013 standard that most showerheads on the market already met – or exceeded.

The manufacturers did not demand to go back. Instead, the call for more powerful showers came from Trump himself, who complained that conservation standards resulted in low water pressure and an unsatisfactory showering experience.

“So the shower heads – you shower, the water doesn’t come out,” Trump said at a White House event last year. “You want to wash your hands, the water doesn’t come out. So what are you doing? Do you stay there longer or take a shower longer? Because my hair – I don’t know about you, but it must be perfect. Perfect.”


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My hair, I don’t know about you, but it must be perfect. Perfect

Donald trump

Since 1994, federal law has capped the flow rate of a shower head at 2.5 gallons of water per minute. After manufacturers began producing more luxurious shower fixtures with more than one nozzle, the Obama administration changed the rule so that the same limit applied to the entire fixture.

In its quest for stronger flow, the Trump administration finalized a rule last December that reinterpreted what a shower fixture was, applying the federal limit to each individual nozzle. This meant that a shower head with three nozzles could use 7.5 gallons of water per minute. The settlement did not set a limit on the total amount.

Reversing this rule is unlikely to affect the showerhead market, and consumers might not notice a change. Few manufacturers offer devices that fall under the Trump-era definition, which was signed in the last few weeks of that administration, according to the Appliance Standards Awareness Project, an energy conservation advocacy group.


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Water is flowing from a low-flow shower head.
Water is flowing from a low-flow shower head. Photo by Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

“It was a stupid loophole from the start, and the department was right to fix it,” said Andrew deLaski, executive director of the group. “The good news is there was no clamor for products that took advantage of it, and we can put this whole episode in the past.”

Trump’s shower head rule was part of a larger effort within the administration to relax energy efficiency standards and regulations for a range of home appliances, including dishwashers, washing machines and dryers.

Although few Americans pay attention to these rules, environmentalists say they are helping fight climate change by reducing energy use from fossil fuels. Limits in water use have also helped western states cope with extreme drought, which has left some reservoirs at or near historic lows.


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  1. Donald Trump speaks accepting the nomination of the Conservative Party of New York State for President on September 7, 2016 in New York City.

    Five weeks into office, Trump claims victory over pressure from the shower head

  2. US President Donald Trump's hair flutters in the wind as he boards Air Force One before flying to Vietnam to attend the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit at the airport from Beijing on November 10, 2017.

    Trump wins battle against White House water pressure to maintain ‘perfect’ hair

The industry has been pushing for some of Trump’s efficiency rules, like the one finalized late last year that allowed manufacturers to continue selling less efficient heaters and water heaters. Natural gas suppliers argued the rule would give consumers more choice, while environmentalists warned it would block pollution from home heating equipment that would warm the planet.

In other cases, conservative groups have advanced an ideological argument, suggesting that less regulation and unlimited supply to consumers served the public interest. The Competitive Enterprise Institute asked the Department of Energy to create a new class of dishwashers that would complete a cycle in less than an hour, allowing these devices to use more water and electricity. The group criticized the Biden administration’s decision to reverse the Trump-era showerhead rule.


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The types of showers that consumers buy and use should be free from regulatory constraints

Competitive Enterprise Institute

“Consumers should be able to decide for themselves what type of showers they buy and use, and do so without regulatory constraints,” IEC senior researcher Ben Lieberman said in a statement after the department of Energy finalized the new rule. “People don’t need the government to protect them from excess water in the shower, they can just turn the button down.”

While Trump focused most of his criticism on bathroom fixtures over shower heads, he also complained about modern toilets and energy-saving light bulbs. “People flush the toilet 10 times, 15 times, instead of once,” he said just weeks before the 2020 election to a receptive crowd in Carson City, Nevada. He also singled out the LED bulb, which he said “costs you five times as much and makes you look orange. “

The Trump administration has never proposed a new toilet standard. But in late 2019, he finalized a rule that delayed the country’s transition to more efficient compact fluorescent and LED bulbs. Consumer groups estimate the delay would increase energy costs by $ 14 billion per year and generate 38 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year. This regulation is still in force.



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