The unsung heroes of the bathroom, today's showerheads deliver both luxury and energy savings.
Years of drought and water restrictions have changed the way Australians shower - we're more mindful than ever of keeping them short - and technology has kept pace with our wish to conserve water.
"Thankfully, that hasn't meant you have to compromise on the quality or look of your shower", says Belinda Geels, Bathroom Marketing Manager for Reece. "Recent surveys we've done have found that the shower is now the most important fixture in the bathroom - not many of us have time to have a bath on a daily basis. So people tend to be happy to invest in a good showerhead."
Next, decide on a spray pattern that suits. "These days, showerheads offer everything from massaging jets to gentle rain-like droplets or a combination of both", says Ross Cass, Managing Director of bathroomware supplier Cass Brothers. Visit a showroom to assess and compare spray options, styles, shapes, features and finishes, and to work out which models are within your price range.
If you like - and the budget allows - you could install a series of Gessi shower roses that cluster elegantly on the ceiling, or a Newform showerhead that illuminates when in use. There's also a shower from Methven that uses vitamin C cartridges to minimise chlorine in the water, thereby helping to prevent eczema flare-ups. And a Kohler model that allows you to change the spray type simply by flipping it over.
Geels says there has been a shift away from standard overhead and fixed-arm showers. "Rail showers are popular now, especially twin-rail showers that have both overhead and adjustable showerheads. These types of showers allow a lot of flexibility."
Practicalities aside, the shower remains a haven for many people and plenty of showerheads are designed to deliver luxury. "It's a place where people unwind and de-stress," says Cass. "To reflect that, showerheads that incorporate chromotherapy [colour therapy] and music therapy are starting to emerge."
Conserving water should be front-of-mind when buying a showerhead. Happily, determining the water efficiency is quite straightforward. Every shower on the market in Australia must have a Water Efficiency Labelling Scheme (WELS) star rating - and the more stars, the more water you'll save. You should also take into account the litres per minute of any models you're considering.
"By choosing a showerhead with a three-star WELS rating you can save up to 14,500 litres of water a year, and that means about $150 off your annual water bill", says Nigel Finney, CEO of the Savewater Alliance.