Special shower features and what they do for you

Laura Firszt

28,000! That's how many showers experts forecast that you'll take over the course of your lifetime. Even if you're a speedy sort who zips in and out of the shower stall in five minutes or less, that's a lot of washing time. So why not make the most of it? In the past, showering used to be a pretty ho-hum affair, using a standard overhead spray. Nowadays, though, there's a whole new trend in shower convenience and comfort. Take a look at the latest features in showers to find the best for your bathroom.

Spray. Choose the spray style that suits you best. The power spray is great for quick focused shampooing and washing. A full body spray offers a vigorous shower to get you going first thing in the morning, while a penetrating massage pulse zeroes in on aching muscles that could use a little hydrotherapy after a long day or a session at the gym. Softer sprays mimic the naturally refreshing action of rain or mist. Love them all? No problem, you will find showerheads that come with combo spray patterns perfect for every shower mood.

Mount. The standard wall mounted showerhead streams onto your skin at an angle. If you'd prefer the effect of water cascading softly down from the heavens, go for an overhead shower instead. Other mounting options include a wide-flow dual showerhead or a sliding bar style, which allows the head to be moved up and down along its vertical wall-mounted base to suit every member of your household. A handheld shower (which can be combined with a standard mount version) is flexible enough to permit you easily to perform your daily hygiene routine without getting your hair wet, shampoo your pet, or scrub soap scum off the shower stall walls. For the ultimate in watery bliss, install a shower with a panel system that can be customized with exactly the number of spigots and spray options you choose.

Green. Want to save money and do a good deed for our planet at the same time? Go for a WaterSense labeled showerhead, which uses 2 gallons of water per minute or less. Compared to a standard showerhead using 2.5 gpm, the low-flow WaterSense alternative both conserves water and lowers the demand on your water heater.

An aerating showerhead mixes air in with the water flow. Showering under one of these fixtures gives you the luxurious impression of enhanced water pressure, even though you are actually using less water than with a conventional model.

LED. Get an instant message regarding the safety of the shower you're about to step into. An LED showerhead will light up in three different colors to inform you about the temperature. Blue is for brrr! Cold water ahead. Green means go, the water is comfortably warm. And red signals stop -- the flow might be too hot to shower with. This is not only kind of fun, it is vital information for those with sensory impairment.

Alternatively, try out the latest in home spa pampering, chromatherapy, with an even more colorful LED shower that offers up to 7 brilliant hues, each of which will bathe you in a healing quality all its own.

Just for Kids. Here's one of life's little mysteries ... why are young children so skilled at getting themselves dirty yet so reluctant to get themselves clean? The answer may be that they are afraid of water or simply that bathtime interrupts their play. Solve both problems with a just-for-kids showerhead. Made in the shape of a friendly animal or cartoon character, it uses adjustable suction cups to allow wall mounting at a comfortable height for youngsters. BONUS: The spray is a gentle, water-conserving 1.5 gpm.

Laura Firszt writes for networx.com.