SpiroFlo looks at some of the marketing strategies in business, how they’ve expanded to green technologies, and when a selling point crosses the line to become an outright lie. With the savings listed on the energy-efficient shower head provided by Xcel Energy, it appears they’ve crossed that line.
When my daughter was in sixth grade, the local energy company, Xcel, handed out a LivingWise kit — basically a box full of energy-efficient devices, including an air filter alarm, a high-efficiency light bulb and a high-efficiency shower head. While I have zero qualms with free stuff — even free stuff with an agenda (side note: anyone with a “free nachos” agenda is welcome to contact me at any time) — I do take issue with blatantly false data; so when I saw the weekly water savings listed on the shower head, I was immediately irritated.
LivingWise kit: Free at school or $5 on Ebay
Most people have seen the diet pill commercial where the girl in the bikini brags about losing dozens of pounds while standing side-by-side with a black-and-white photo of her much larger self from six months back. There’s a chance her frail frame is holding out her old, giant pants, but one thing’s for sure: Most people know those results aren’t typical, and sure enough, when your eyeballs squint at all the tiny words along the bottom of the TV screen, you usually find that the average weight loss on the fad diet pill (which will likely wind up banned by the FDA) is less than 15 pounds — weight that is likely to return.
Thing is, even if you assume these numbers are bogus, you can usually find out the truth (often that the advertised success story is an anomaly and not the norm). With many green technologies, however, I find that the truthful fine print is never available and some of the savings don’t add up. For anyone with even modest experience in household water savings, one glance will tell you that any showerhead claiming to save 770 gallons of water a week is bogus, but that’s what the flyer for the LivingWise shower head from Oxgenics and Xcel Energy claims. I was curious about exactly how false the numbers were.
With any data, you have to decide which averages you’re going to use — since different researchers have been known to find different data — and then make certain assumptions. With this in mind, I am using the EPA‘s average numbers for shower use, assuming that each person (out of an average 2.4 person home) is taking one shower a day. I am also assuming that the Xcel/Oxygenics shower head is in compliance with the 1.5 gallons per minute low-flow standard. Finally, given that the apocalypse has not yet happened, I am assuming there are still seven days in a week. Risky territory, I know, but now you know the foundation I’m working with. So, here we go:
2.4 showers a day times 8 minutes per shower times 7 days in week with a standard 2.5 gallon per minute shower head only uses 336 gallons in a week total. There aren’t even 770 gallons a week to save.
In order to save 770 gallons a week, still using the other averages, you’d have to save 5.73 gallons per minute off every shower. This means that in order for the Xcel/Oxygenics 1.5 gallons/minute high-efficiency shower head to save that huge amount of water, what they consider an average-flow shower head has to be above 7.2 gallons/minute. Problem is, the max flow shower head you can get since 1992 is a 2.5 gallon/minute shower head and the EPA estimates that 10% of the remaining big ol’ shower heads are getting replaced every year. So unless you’re using those giant, frying pan shower heads from a 1970s swinger pad as your average, you are lying.
Lots of water to distract you from the alien invasion
The part that grates me the most is that energy companies (who should know better) are endorsing these numbers. Maybe they’re just trying to appear like good stewards of the environment, or maybe it’s that sad green trend of the ends justifying the means, but it’s hard enough to get people to take energy efficiency seriously without adding in misinformation.
If I get updated info, I’ll certainly visit this issue again and correct any assumptions I may have made (I’m watching you, apocalypse). That said, neither Xcel Energy nor Oxygenics returned my phone calls on the matter. I’ll have more in the comments (including a statement from an energy savings insider).
“Free nachos” agenda, I still await your delicious propaganda.
Colin McKay Miller is the Marketing Manager for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:
-SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with a 3.5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).
-Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).
-Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.)
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