In the world of old kitchens that have not been gutted or renovated in the recent past, or ever, old-fashioned faucets with taps that spill gallons of clean tap water with absolute abandon are still fairly commonplace. One tiny improvement to make is installing a faucet aerator. They help save water—an average of 700 gallons a year per family according to the EPA— without impacting water pressure, and depending on the make and model you choose, offer a bit of help in the washing up department.
When we moved in, our faucet had a typical hardware store variety faucet aerator attached to the tip. These aerators are inexpensive, widely available, and do a totally serviceable job of limiting water waste and splashing. They’re also, I think it’s fair to say, unattractive and not necessarily very advanced in terms of water conservation. The one on our faucet, for instance, merely made the faucet comply to the federal limit of a 2.2 gallons per minute flow rate, set in 1994.
So a month or two ago, we installed a new faucet aerator that better disappears into the background of our 1950s faucet and is more effective at saving water, with a flow rate of 1.8 GPM. Like the old chrome and black plastic aerator, this new one swivels, which means it helps the water reach the corners of the sink, and instead of needing to yank at the thing to change it from stream to spray, this one just requires a little twist.
Needless to say there are many, many options for faucet aerators and you would not be wrong to go in another direction entirely. Without a swivel option, a low-flow aerator can cost as little as a few dollars. The EPA’s WaterSense certification doesn’t currently expand to kitchen faucets, but it’s a good place to start your search and get an idea of possibilities (and there are definitely aerators with an even lower flow rate than the one we ended up with!).
In terms of installation, I’m not a plumber, but there’s no need to be one to understand the basics here. If there are threads at the end of your faucet, it’s most likely aerator ready. Standard faucets generally have either 15/16ths male threads or 55/64ths female threads at the tip. Knowing which you have is as easy as looking at your faucet and determining whether the threads are exposed (male!) or tucked up inside (female!). Once you’ve got an aerator with right threads, attaching it to the faucet is as simple as screwing it on.
And that’s that. $14 later and we’ve got less water wasting down the drain and a kitchen sink that’s a whole lot easier to look at.