With baths to be taken, teeth to be brushed, toilets to be . . . ahem . . . used, the main green issue lurking in your bathroom has to deal with water consumption.
Conserving water in the bathroom once again brings up the bath vs. shower debate. For most of us, slipping into a hot bath is the perfect way to relax and unwind. But, when you take the time to compare the water consumption numbers, you may find that taking a bath often leaves your money flowing right down the drain.
According to the Consumer Energy Center website, an average bath uses anywhere from 30 to 50 gallons of water. That may not seem like a lot until you compare it to the 20 gallons of water used in a four-minute shower. Think about the fact that a bath could potentially be using 30 more gallons of water. Water that you will ultimately send straight down the drain. Which is better, shower or bath? The answer may not be so obvious. It all depends on factors like person, showerhead, or bathtub size.
The easiest way to determine how much water you use when showering is to simply plug the drain the next time you take a shower.
See how much water is left standing in the tub when you are finished. If it is less than you would use to take a bath, then a shower may be the water-saving route for you. If you have a wading pool around your calves, then you may actually be using about the same amount or less for a bath. Each faucet, person, and drain can vary, so the best option is the option that best fits you.
There are other ways to conserve water and energy whether taking a bath or a shower:
- Scrub in the tub. When you do decide to indulge in a bath, make sure to wash in the bath as well. Soaking in the tub and then showering to finish washing only wastes more water.
- Drain train. Make sure to close the drain before turning on the water to take a bath. Sure, it will be cold at first, but leaving it running until the water warms before you plug the drain only sends useful water straight down the drain. Once the water warms, it will heat that initial cold water.
- Cool it. Try not to take a scorching shower. Choosing to take a bit of a cooler shower will not only wake you, but it will also give your hot water heater a break. Taking a shower that is cooler will use less energy to heat the water, and in turn save you money.
- Keep it short. The next time you take a shower, pay attention to how long you need to wash and how long you just stand there, letting the water wash over you. That time spent under the water is soothing, but it is also wasteful and unnecessary. Try to shorten your shower time. If you reduce your time in the shower by just one minute, you could save 1,825 gallons of water per year. Think about all those gallons of water you will be saving. If you want those extra green points, try to keep your showers somewhere around four to five minutes. This may not seem like much time, but once you begin to shorten your time under the water, you may find that taking a four-minute shower isn’t as hard to do as you thought.
- Multitask. Try brushing your teeth in the shower. Since you already have it on, why not use that water to clean your teeth as well. While you wait for that conditioner to set, give your mouth a bit of conditioning as well. If you want extra green points, try multitasking and brushing with baking soda.
- Double it. If you have small children, and you are comfortable with it, put them in the tub or shower together. This will give them a playmate, and you may find that you also have a moment of peace while they splash and take turns pouring water over each other’s heads.
- Use your head. One of the easiest ways to conserve water and your money is to install a low-flow showerhead. You could reduce your shower from 20 gallons to 10 gallons in the time it takes to screw on a showerhead. This is an inexpensive improvement to your shower that could save you gallons of water after only one use.
- Go overboard. If you really want to focus on saving energy and water, you can try turning off the water while you scrub. This is commonly called a “navy shower,” but campers should be familiar with this as well. Turn the water on to rinse. Then turn it off while you lather up. Turn it back on only to rinse again. This may seem extreme, but considering the amount of water and money you can save, you may just want to go overboard and go navy.
These are only a few ways to get started with saving energy and water. Does this mean that you have to forsake long, luxurious baths for quick showers in which you race to shave, brush your teeth, shampoo, rinse, and condition all in under five minutes? Of course not. You can still take baths. Just make them a treat for yourself. And, make sure to take smarter baths rather than hotter baths. Your water bill will thank you.