Take Shorter Showers

Water is one of our most precious finite resources – we literally can’t live without it.  Did you know up to 20% of our indoor water usage is spent in the shower?  There are a few easy ways to cut back on water use in the shower, saving a bit more for other uses - and the fish!

Easy
Households: 49 completed, 7 committed
1090
Points ?
$80
Annual Savings
$0 - $0
Upfront Cost
These are estimates
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Energy and water savings

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0
kWh Electricity
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41
Therms Natural Gas
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0
Gallons Gas
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3640
Gallons Water
  • Save precious water resources
  • Save energy and money
  • Have more time for your day!

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Overview

The Action
We will reduce the minutes we spend in the shower.
Is this action for me?
Yes! Anyone can do this action.
When and Who?
This action can be done any time by anyone.
How long will it take?
Quick - only a few minutes, it actually saves you time!
What is the cost?
No cost - and extra savings!

Benefits

  • Save precious water resources

  • Save energy and money

  • Have more time for your day!

The Basics

Did you know a 10 minute shower can use up to 50 gallons of water? It also takes a lot of energy to heat the water. Shortening your shower time just a bit can really make a big difference. The good news - there are a number of ways to save water in the shower that won’t throw a wrench in your routine. A few tips and tricks and you can get just as clean in less time!

Checklist

Have everything you need on hand
Know your shower dial
Time yourself
Save and brush your teeth before you hit the shower
Go Navy! Consider turning the water off while lathering
Consider your shower routine
Share tips with others in your home
Put a note on the mirror

Be Prepared

One easy way to shorten your time in the shower is to be prepared.  Have everything you need ready and on hand, so you won’t spend time looking for something after the hot water is already flowing. Soap, shampoo, loofah - check!  Towels nearby for a smooth transition from the shower - check!

Also, know your shower dial.  If it takes a few tries to get the water flow and temperature just right, consider marking the valves to signal the correct position. Saving seconds can actually save gallons.  Don’t turn the water on until you are ready to get in.  Make sure you are prepared and ready to go with your shower items as well.

Time Yourself

Not sure how long you shower now?  Time yourself to get a baseline.  The average American showers for approximately eight minutes.  With a standard flow shower-head that’s about 30 gallons of water, and about half that with a low-flow.  Taking even a few minutes off of your shower time can save 5-10 gallons of water.  Multiplied by all your showers in a year, that really adds up!  

After you figure out your baseline, set a goal on how much you want to reduce your shower time.  Five minutes is a good goal, but if that is too much at first, start off with a goal of reducing 1-2 minutes per shower.  Continue timing yourself until you get a feel for your new time.  You can use your phone or a kitchen timer in the bathroom to help keep track of the minutes, or, if you listen to music while showering, count the number of songs played.  An unsung bonus - cut your shower time back by four minutes a day, and you gain an entire day every year.  Think of all the things you could do with that time!

Shave Before You Shower

It may seem tempting to shave while you’re in the shower – you’re going to get wet anyway, right?  However, the truth is, you can save a lot of water by shaving before you shower.  A good way to shave while conserving water is to have a smaller amount of water set aside in a bowl for rinsing the razor, instead of running it under the tap.  Don’t worry about leftover bits of lather if you’re heading for the shower afterward.

Go Navy!

Since there’s a limited amount of water on naval ships, saving water is extremely important.  Sailors developed a technique for saving now called the Navy shower.  Here’s how it works:  hop in the shower and get wet all over, turn off the water while soaping up and then turn the water back on to rinse off.  Navy showers can use as little as 4 gallons of water!  And you also might save money on coffee - it will really wake you up!

To Shower or Not to Shower (or how often)

A bit of showering history - it wasn’t that long ago that most Americans bathed only once a week.  Bathing was a major undertaking which required carrying water from the well and extra effort to make it hot.  Then after 1930s when indoor plumbing came on the scene for most American households, the showering began.

We have gone from once a week to once a day or more.  With plentiful water (and some very encouraging advertising from the soap and bath supplies industry), we jumped right in and made showering a daily affair.  There is no doubt that additional cleanliness over the once/week routine has been a benefit to our health, however, the question is just how much do we need to shower for the health benefit?  With drought and increasing water shortages in many areas, we have some good reasons to ask this question.

The short answer is many Americans shower a bit more often than needed.  There are actually even a few health benefits to showering a bit less often for some.  Every time we shower we strip the skin of both natural oils and healthy bacteria.  Showering too often can make your skin dry and itchy and makes some people more prone to problems like eczema.  Showering less can actually make skin look and feel healthier.  Also, like our gut, our skin also has healthy bacteria that strengthen our immune system and help us fight disease.  

At the end of the day how often you need to shower depends on a number of factors.  One is your skin type, if you have dry skin you are probably ok to shower a bit less often, if your skin is very oily, a daily shower may make sense.  Another is your daily activity and climate.  If you have a labor intensive job, go to the gym daily, or live in a hot, humid climate, a daily shower probably makes sense.

Finally, another consideration is catching the flu or other viruses.  If you ride the subway often, go to the gym daily or have a job where you come into contact with many strangers, a daily shower might lower your risk of getting sick during the cold and flu season.  However, if none of these applies to you, it might work to shower a bit less.  Think of all the extra time you will have in the morning!  Check with your doctor or dermatologist for more information and suggestions on what will work best for you.

Sudsing your locks

Like the question of how often to shower, the question of how often to wash your hair is also a great question to ask.  Washing your hair daily can strip it of natural oils, just like our skin.   Proper care to remove dirt and oils is important, but may not be required as often as you think.  How often?  Again, it depends on a number of factors specific to you.

Some hairstylists recommend that if you have normal to dry hair you can wash a few times per week.  If you have oily hair, you could wash more often, maybe every other day or daily.  It also depends on your type of hair, if you have tightly curled or coarse hair, shampooing once per week may be plenty as oil tends to build up more slowly.  On the other hand if your hair is straight and fine, oil builds up more quickly and once every other day or even daily makes sense.

Oil build up is also increased if you work out daily or live in a hot humid climate.  Talk with your hair stylist or dermatologist for more information about what will work best for you.  Finally, if you use a conditioner in the shower, suds up and wash your body while your conditioner is working to save time.  If you leave your conditioner on for more than 1-2 minutes consider conditioning outside the shower then just rinsing your hair when you're done.

Post a Reminder & Share the info

Changing routines can take a bit of commitment and just sheer remembering.  Post a note on your bathroom mirror to remind yourself to be prepared and keep your shower time down.  Also, sharing tips and ideas with other members in your household will help everyone remember new water saving goals.  Make it fun, make it a game!  The person with the shortest showering time that week gets a prize.

Go Low Flow

Low-flow doesn’t mean low-pressure.  A good quality low-flow shower head will give you as satisfying and refreshing a shower as any. If you shower for ten minutes, you will save a whopping 15 gallons of water compared to an older model shower head. In the long run, this will save you up to $50 in annual heating costs.