How to Choose the Best Faucet Aerator for Your Home

One of the best ways to cut water and energy usage in your home is also one of the easiest. Installing WaterSense labeled faucet aerators on all your faucets can save, on average, 700 gallons of water per year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). That’s about the same as skipping 40 showers per year (but less gross).

Faucet aerators are based on a simple concept: That by mixing air in with your water flow, you’re able to cut down on water usage without sacrificing functionality. And installing them couldn’t be simpler. All you need to do is choose the right faucet aerator and screw it on to your faucet.

In a matter of seconds, you’re on your way to serious water savings, all thanks to a simple, no-tech device that uses a small screen to divide the flow of water from the faucet. This intersperses the water with air and creates a steady, gentle stream while also decreasing the amount of water needed for washing. Essentially, faucet aerators decrease water use by skimping on water pressure.

Faucet aerators have the added benefit of reducing energy consumption. That’s because they cut down on hot water usage—and therefore on the fuel needed to heat the water. According to the EPA, the average family can save enough energy with faucet aerators to run a hairdryer for 10 minutes a day.

Oh, and did we mention faucet aerators only cost a couple dollars? Are you sold yet? If so, here’s a simple step-by-step guide to choosing the right faucet aerator for you.

  1. Pick your flow. Water flow is measured in gallons per minute, abbreviated as GPM. When choosing a faucet aerator, look for a water-saving model like one labeled WaterSense. This is an EPA designation that guarantees a flow of under 1.5 GPM. That’s a significant decrease from the standard faucet flow rate of 2.2 GPM, but it’s possible to do even better: Some aerators cut the flow down to 0.5 GPM.
  2. Male or female? If your faucet has threading on the outside, you need a female-threaded aerator. If the threading is on the inside of your faucet, look for a male-threaded aerator.
  3. Size it up. There are three sizes of aerators available, and you need to be sure to get the right one. Conveniently, the sizes correspond to American coins, so you can size up your needs without a ruler. Just take a look at the existing aerator on your faucet (or consider the size of the opening on your faucet if you don’t already have an aerator). Is it about the size of a quarter? If so, you’ll want a regular sized aerator. The size of a nickel? Go for the junior. A dime? You want an aerator labeled as “Tom Thumb” sized. Cute, right?
  4. Choose your stream. If you’ve ever used an adjustable shower head, you know the difference between the standard, bubbly spray and the needle-type spray. Those different sprays are available with faucet aerators too, so pick the one that’s best for your use.
  5. Get fancy, if you want to. Need a swiveling faucet head? Or maybe the option to switch between bubble and needle-type spray? Or do you want to be able to adjust flow rate? All of those are possible with full-featured (but still affordable) aerators.

Once you’ve picked your aerator, simply unscrew the old one (if you have one) and put on your new one. Then start enjoying a steady stream of water and energy savings.