In all my years, I’ve never quite seen the level of journalistic gushing over a single bathroom fixture than I have with a sleek new shower system (not just a shower head, mind you) that harnesses water atomization technology to slash H2O consumption by 70 percent.

I’ve also never seen a crowdfunded water conservation device — this one is brought to you by Nebia, a fresh-faced San Francisco startup that’s spent the last five years testing and tinkering with its potentially game-changing design — crowdfund so well. With still over two weeks until its Kickstarter campaign expires, Nebia has managed to raise over $2.5 million and counting in crowdfunded cash.

Just as Nebia’s pre-launch success is staggering, so is the price tag attached to the privilege of lathering up under what the startup calls a “warm and cozy mist” that “hugs you skin, providing more than enough water to get you clean and refreshed.” (Such an atmospheric spray is also the ideal environment to take singing in the shower to the next level, to really belt it out and channel your inner Stevie Nicks.)

When the Kickstarter campaign concludes, Nebia will retail for $399. By pre-ordering the magical apparatus, you can get your own for a significantly discounted — but still spendy — price of $299. (Deals reserved for early bird backers starting at $249 have already been claimed).

Want to join the 500 backers that have invested in a “family pack” of three Nebias? Prepare to fork over $800, shampoo and body wash not included.

While there are plenty of other less costly ways to save water while rinsing off in the morning, the sheer number of people willing to spend big to save big is, well, refreshing. And Nebia (a play on nebbia, the Italian word for “mist”) claims to offer a water-saving shower experience — an experience backed by the Schmidt Family Foundation along with Silicon Valley heavyweights such as Apple CEO Tim Cook and Michael Altman of startup incubator Y Combinator — like no other. Considering its good looks, efficiency, the amount of time and energy spent developing the product and, of course, the jaw-dropping price tag, you might say Nebia is positioning itself as the Dyson of bathroom fixtures.

Wendy Schmidt, president of the Schmidt Family Foundation, says in a statement to the New York Times: “Nebia’s showering technology has the potential to be transformative. It’s innovative and elegant, and can also have a significant impact on water use — not just in California, where we’re experiencing a severe drought — but around the world where fresh water resources are limited.”

Equipped with an innovative — and rather sizable — shower head that employs patented H2MICRO multi-nozzle technology in which water is atomized into millions of surface area- increasing tiny droplets, part of Nebia’s appeal, aside from its Silicon Valley clout, is that it pays for itself rather quickly: less than two years in the average home, according to the startup. Whereas an average, 8-minute shower requires 20 gallons of water, a Nebia shower cuts that figure to a mere 6 gallons. And while EPA WaterSense-branded shower heads operate at a rate of 2 gallons per minute or gpm (the industry standard is 2.5 gpm), Nebia manages to offer dramatic savings at .75 gpm.

“It’s like walking into a humid environment that gets you super drenched,” Nebia co-founder and CEO Philip Winter, explains to the San Francisco Chronicle. Previous to revolutionizing the humble shower head, Winter worked for Toilets for People, a startup with the mission to bring composting commodes to people living in flood-prone, developing areas.

In addition to conserved water, there’s also energy savings at play:

Nebia also helps you conserve energy. Traditional household showers consume markedly more energy than a Nebia just to heat the water and the majority of that hot water goes straight down the drain. Nebia is 13 times more efficient at delivering the heat you pay for to your body, making your daily shower in a Nebia 13 times more thermally efficient. The combination of Nebia’s water and energy savings translates to lower monthly utility bills. You’ll not only feel good about using Nebia on a daily basis; your pocket book will also thank you.

Developed in collaboration with San Francisco-based industrial firm Box Clever and tested on the Bay Area campuses of Google, Apple and Stanford University, Nebia consists of four main components: A rotating shower head made from a high density polymer (read: plastic); an “elegant yet incredibly resistant” anodized aluminum bracket that serves as Nebia’s “backbone;” an arm that slides up and down the bracket in order to “optimize and customize the spray pattern to your body shape and size;” and, last but not least, an ergonomic hand-held wand that doubles as one hell of a microphone.

Nebia, a crowdfunded shower systemPhoto: Nebia

Nebia, a crowdfunded shower systemPhoto: Nebia

Installation of the unit is geared to be relatively easy, breezy and plumber-free.

Explains Winter:

Showers have been the same for 100 years. Not only do we need a more efficient solution, we need an all around better experience in our daily routines. We set out to create a better shower experience first, and save as much water as possible. It turns out the age old belief that more water equals a better experience isn’t necessarily true.

Lots more over at Nebia’s Kickstarter campaign including further insight into the science behind the startup’s jet-fuel injection-inspired nozzle technology.

I, for one, would be honored to test drive a Nebia as I love showering (and saving water) just as much as the next guy. (Members of the press that have given Nebia a soaking spin seem to be nothing short of enamored with the end results). But as far as actually investing, I’m reluctant — $300-plus is a lot of dough. Any thoughts?

Via [NYT], [SF Chronicle]

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Water-conserving Nebia shower system is the toast of Silicon Valley
Sure, it's backed by Apple's Tim Cook. But would you spend $300 on a shower apparatus?