Here we look at taking a shower, feeling clean without feeling guilty. There are many
ways to do this.
There is nothing like a long hot shower or bath. However, either one
could use a lot of water and energy. This section is devoted to figuring
out ways that are right for you to get clean while using less water and
One question people ask is, "does a bath use more water
than a shower?" Automatically people think a bath uses more water.
Mostly that is true, but that depends on how long you spend in the
shower and its flow rate. General Data: In a typical household,
4 showers will be taken a daily. Each shower will be approximately 10
minutes and the shower head will put out 3 gallons of water a minute. The
average cost to heat a gallon of water for a shower is about $0.02.
This means that a typical household will use about 43,000
gallons of heated water for showers a year. This is roughly $860 a year
for heating the water.
Most of us get charged per cubic foot of water used. 100 cubic
feet of water is 748 gallons. The national average cost for water is
about $2.00 per 1,000 gallons. That is $0.003 per gallon. We estimate
that 43,000 gallons would cost about $130. That is a total of about
$1,000 in a year. This cost will vary
depending where you are. Unsure what your Utility charges? This link
In this section, we analyze three ways to reduce
the costs of taking a shower. We also briefly discuss a few other
solutions to water/energy/money conservation for showers.
Solution 1: Take a shorter shower. We
know this sounds obvious but many people do not realize just how much savings
they can realize. This requires you to have a
little change in your habits. Even a 1 minute shorter shower can save
a ton of cash. Using a typical 4 person household mentioned above,
you can save 4,300 gallons of water ($100) a year from a 1 minute shorter shower.
Solution 2: Take a cooler shower. We
are not saying take a cold shower. What we mean is find that spot on
your shower dial that you normally use and make it slightly
cooler. Although this will not save water, it
will save energy to heat the water. We estimate that this could save your household
$10 to $40 a year in energy costs.
Solution 3: Change your shower head to a
lower flow model. Yes, this will require a purchase (although some utility
companies have shower head giveaways). This solution has the biggest
potential savings with the least change in your habits.
Your current shower head and what type you
replace it with, will determine the amount of savings you will see on
your energy and water bills.
If we use the example above of an average 3.0 gallon
per minute and replace it with a 2.0 gallon per minute unit, you will enjoy
Use 14,000 gallons less water in a year.
Save about $300 on heating water.
Save about $40 on water usage.
how many gallons a minute your shower head uses? Here is a quick way
to find out.
Cut the mouth off a plastic 1 gallon milk jug.
Bring a timer (stop watch) and the jug to your shower.
Start the shower, put the milk jug up to the shower head to catch all
the water coming out. Start the timer at the same time.
Stop the timer when the jug is filled to the top.
Consult the calculator below to
determine the flow rate.
Replacing a shower
head is a relatively simple process, however, if you do not feel
comfortable doing the work yourself you may want to hire a
plumber. You should include installation costs (if any) with the shower head
costs when calculating your return on investment (see calculator below).
Usually replacement requires a wrench and some plumbers
tape (white Teflon tape), and maybe some masking tape.
The following are (in general) the steps you go through to replace the
Step 1: Put masking tape on the teeth of the wrench you
are about to use. Many shower heads scratch easily and you do not
want the wrench marking up your shower head.
Step 2: Remove the old shower head. Use the wrench to
turn the base of the shower head in a counter clockwise
You may also want to put a cloth between the shower head and wrench.
Step 3: Wrap plumbers tape around the thread of the
water pipe. This will create a better seal and avoid leaks.
Step 4: Screw the new shower head onto the water pipe.
When tightening with the wrench make sure the masking tape or a
bit of cloth is between the wrench and the shower head to avoid
Step 5: Turn water on and check for leaks out of the
water shaft/shower head. If any leaks, try tightening the shower
head with the wrench a little more.
Old Shower Head: There is a lot of
variation in the composition of shower heads. Mostly metal and
plastic. The metal should be something that does not rust, like
brass or bronze (some with nickel or chrome plating) and some
are aluminum. It is usually not feasible to dismantle the head
to recover the metal. However, if you are replacing many shower heads it might
The plastic usually is a more durable plastic that is not
necessarily recyclable. Some recycling facilities may take the whole
shower head but if most of the shower head is plastic we do not believe
they will. We suggest you call or check the web site of your local
recycler before you throw away your shower head.
New Shower Head: The newer shower heads may have something
extra. Most of the components are the same, metal and plastic.
However, on the metal side some may have shape memory metal
(trickle/savings mode) that blocks the flow when a
temperature has been reached to minimize wasted water after it is hot but before you enter the shower.
This is a small amount of metal but it might be a
problem from a recycling perspective. Some low-flow shower heads are
mostly plastic. We generally don't recommend them.
Note: We are finding it difficult to research
the disposal of some of the products we recommend. If you have
a suggestion for other means of disposal
write us and we may
post it on this site
There are can be different uses for
the different flow rates of shower head. 0.5 to 1.0 gpm: This type of shower head is good for
showers next to the beach or pool to rinse off. Also, Campgrounds
and some other areas where fresh water is in short supply. 1.0 to 1.5 gpm: These are
great for showers in the spa area of a hotel, or at the gym or
farm, Camper or 5th wheel. 1.5 to 2.0 gpm: Could work well in a college dorm, apartment, 5th wheel, motor home, shelter, etc. 2.0 to 2.5 gpm: No comfort loss here.
These would do well for apartments, homes, hotel rooms, and everywhere else not
mentioned in the other flow rates. 2.5+ gpm: The legal definition of
low-flow shower head is 2.5 gpm or less. We will not direct you to
shower heads with these higher flows.
Product picks by solution:
Solution 1: (shorter shower). You
could buy a timer for your shower. The Waterpebble is a high tech timer
that times your first shower then reduces it by 1/3.
It does this a few seconds each shower until you are at the desired
Solution 2: (cooler
shower). We do not
have any product to help you
with that, you have to simply
Solution 3: (new shower head).
For this we direct you to several models that cover a good range of flow rates.
Niagara Earth Massage 1.25 gpm.
This 1.5 gpm shower head can go down to 1.25 gpm. It has built in massage and can
save a ton of water (and heat energy). May be a little less durable, however this will
pay for itself many times before you need to replace it.
Evolve Road Runner 1.6 gpm shower head.
With Shower Start Technology,
this laminar flow shower head puts out water at the rate of
1.59 gpm and most everyone says that it feels like more. The
Shower Start Technology means you can start the shower and it
will reduce to a trickle when it gets up to temperature, then you
simply flip the lever to start the shower when you're ready.
Oxygenics 60123 1.75 GPM Shower
This aerating shower head can be 1.75 gpm and is built to last.
The shower head will pay for itself in a few months and will continue to
save you money year after year. The lever you see in the picture adjusts the flow/pressure
of the shower.
Solution 1: (shorter shower).
If you are in a typical household mentioned above you will save
approximately 4,300 gallons of water and about
$100 a year for every 1 minute you reduce your shower time. This is a great way
to start free (no purchase required). In about 2-5 months you can save
enough to buy a shower head in solution 3.
Solution 2: (cooler shower).
Of course, this method does not save any water but it can save
energy. This is a difficult calculation to make. We estimate that
the mixture of a typical shower is about 70% hot and 30% cold water.
When you take a cooler shower, you might be changing that ratio to
67%/33%. As best as we can calculate, that is approximately $30 a year
in the typical house. If you are trying to start free, you may have to
do this type of shower for about 10-15 months before you can afford a new
Solution 3: (low flow shower head).
The low flow shower head pays for itself in a few weeks to a few
months in a typical household. Then, you get to enjoy that savings year
after year. We calculate for the typical house hold you could save $170
to $500 a year without reducing temperature or time of the shower.
Combining Solution 1,2 and 3:
Reducing shower time by 3 minutes, and flow rate from 3.0 to 2.0 and
cooling the shower by 3 degrees combine to provide an estimated average
of $550 a year in savings. The water savings may be about 23,000 gallons per year.
We suggest you go to the "Green Calculator" below. There you will be able to
calculate the savings for your situation.
Low Flow Shower Head: Currently defined as a shower
head with a flow rate of 2.5 gallons a minute or less.
Cubic Foot: This is a measure of volume. Water
companies usually measure water in Cubic feet. 1 cubic foot is a volume
that is 1 foot wide by 1 foot tall by 1 foot deep. One cubic foot is
about 7.5 gallons of water.
GPM: Gallons Per Minute.
100 Cubic Feet of Water: 748 gallons of water.
Many water companies bill in units of 100 cubic feet of water
PSI: Pounds per Square Inch. This is a unit of
pressure. Often used to specify water pressure in a pipe.
Shower head flow is typically rated at a standard pressure
and your flow may vary if your pressure is not the same as the standard.