3 University Students Develop Efficient High Pressure Shower Head


Long showers are a great way to unwind, but they pose a drain on resources. To help people cut down on their time in the shower, 3 Tufts University graduates created a color changing shower head that alerts people when it's time to get out of the shower.

The Uji high pressure shower head, which features a light that changes from green to red after seven minutes of use, began as a senior capstone project for B. Andler, S. Woolf, and T. Wilson. The 3 students who graduated earlier in the spring said they wanted to work on an item that would improve on user experience while helping people save money and water.

“The Uji Shower Head Lets You Know When You are Taking Too Long in the Bathroom!”

"By reducing average showering time from 9 minutes down to 8, the Uji high pressure shower head will pay for itself in water and energy savings after only seven months of use in a home setting, and three months in a university setting, where more individual users take showers on any given day,"   In its testing, the trio noticed Uji led to a 12.0% decrease in showering time and a savings in water use versus high flow .

After being featured by National Public Radio's All Things Considered as its weekly innovation pick, this showerhead has attracted the attention of colleges and homeowners. Some Universities have also agreed to run a pilot program using the showerhead in all of their dorms.

Uji received grants from the Department of Energy for it's shower heads and the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab for it's prototype development and testing, and is seeking unding as it moves onto the production line. The brilliant creators are still experimenting with the design of the product and hope it will be ready sometime next year.

"We're still not done fiddling," Andler said. "We're also exploring letting people set their own times and a few other cool ideas!"

Unit is lightweight and has great spray and high pressure.

One thinng to watch for is how much pressure your water system is using. So once you gently open the water faucet & gradually increase the spray pressure, the unit will perform fine. However, if you have strong, high pressure water, and you open the faucet all the way too fast, you could rupture the o-ring and possibly break the plastic arms that support the showerhead. Unit is lightweight and has great spray pressure.

I'm very satisfied with this product. I have an interesting application for it. Since I'm in an old house with old pipes, I can never get hot water with lower flow rate shower heads. This product is the only shower head that allows me to draw enough hot water.

The team of students was inspired to create a device that would help conserve resources and inspire ecological awareness around the world.

“It encourages us to take shorter and more energy efficient showers,” Andler explained to National Public Radio.  “By letting people become aware of how long they’re in the shower, we’ve actually been able to cut shower time by 12 percent.”

The Uji low-flow high pressure showerhead is priced at about fifty bucks and will save the consumer up to $95 per year after being installed and used. The prototype received grants from the Department of Energy. Big names like Sym-mons have shown some interest, and the Uji is projected to be available for purchase someday soon.

Needless to say, this week's innovation pick is a high pressure shower head that reminds you you're taking too long. The Uji showerhead gradually turns from green to red as users linger in the shower.

Andler says he and fellow Tufts University grads Sam and Wilson designed this light-up shower head as part of a mechanical engineering class in the springtime.

"We were all interested in green technology and saving the environment," Andler said. "So we were looking at an untackled problem and realized, shower heads. We wanted a product that will pay for itself really quickly and look and feel just as good as a non-eco-friendly counterpart."

Andler submitted the Uji on our open form for Weekly Innovation ideas and it caught our eye. The idea also got the attention of the DOA. According to Andler, at least four universities have committed to piloting the shower heads in their dorms once the Uji is produced in mass.

"It's a great use case to sell directly to universities and use that as a way to build up revenue and trust," Andler said. But if you want an Uji shower head for your home, the team is hoping to have them available for purchase someday.

Some of our readers have questions and have been quite curious about how long you get to shower before the light turns red. Andler tells us the Uji currently turns red in about seven minutes so people get out of the shower by minute eight. But, he says, "We're still playing around with it. We may have models that let users set their own time, and we may modify the current 7 minutes. We're still looking to find the best balance between savings and comfort."

Students have removed some of the low-flow shower heads the University installed last year to conserve water during the drought, but B. Olson, associate director of Housing facilities, said any altered fixtures will be fixed.

"We're going to be coming back behind them and replacing it," Olson said. "We're still in the grips of the drought and we will be for the projected future."

The University installed low-flow shower heads and faucet aerators last school year, and B. Olson said it resulted in a nearly thirty percent reduction in water usage in residence halls.

Chelsea Jester, a sophomore in fashion and textile management and Turlington Hall resident, said students in her dorm had removed the low-flow fixtures on their shower heads to make them high flow.

"People know how to fix them," she said.

Zachary Thompson, another Turlington resident and junior in arts application, was one of several students who said the fixtures don't help conserve because "you just take longer showers" with them.

"I take five-minute showers [before]," he said. "When we had [the low-flow fixtures] I took twenty-minute showers."

Katy Walls, a freshman in communication, said the fixtures "make the showering process two times longer."

Students are also frustrated with the low-flow aerators on dorm room faucets, according to Clark, a student in material science engineering. "When I have to wash a dish, it takes forever," he said.

Steven Scovell, a sophomore in economics who lives in Alexander Residence Hall said someone had removed one of the men's showerhead fixtures in his building, and he had heard all the women's fixtures in his hall had been altered as well. "They haven't been off that long," he said. "If puts one back on, the people that took it off will probably take it off again."

According to Olson, they could take disciplinary actions against students who have altered their units to make them high flow shower heads if it could pinpoint one particular responsible student. He said there will be an educational campaign next month to inform students of ways they can conserve.

"Our fear is that the assumption is that the drought is over," Olson said. "With rain coming down today, students assume we can go back to business as usual. That's very short-sighted because we have a long-term requirement to conserve water at every turn." Housing will not receive a water bill to compare this semester's usage to last year until October, he said, but low-flow fixtures will be permanent. "The days of high-flow shower heads with high pressure are gone," he said. Students have not given Housing a negative response for the fixtures, Olson said, with the exception of two letters he received last year. "The response from parents has been very positive," he said. The project to install low-flow showerheads and other fixtures last year cost the University $15,000, according to Olson, and it spent more recently to re-do the high-flow toilet system.

"We have purchased about $100,000 worth of toilet fixtures and piping fixtures and valves to attempt to bring the entire Housing system in compliance with low-flow requirements," he said. While these new fixtures could use less water, and make for lower water bills, Olson said there was quite a potential for much much higher city utility prices. If the increases are high enough, it could mean the college breaks even instead of saving money off the new fixtures. It would cost $5 to replace a low-flow shower head, and $2 for a faucet aerator, he said.

According to Scovell, the college could focus more on educating students about smaller tips, such as turning off the water faucet while brushing your teeth.

And also to the "educational conservation promotion," Olson said the University must "continue to monitor building systems and look for ways to address conservation on a systematic level."

For more details, or to request a demo unit, visit their website at: http://ujishower.com/

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