Do showers really use less water than baths? It’s a question being asked more and more now, maybe because taking a long soak was one way of relaxing during the long lockdown.
We’re all much more aware, with the changing climate, that we need to be more careful about our water use but it’s so abundant in developed countries like the UK that we still tend to take it for granted.
Yet a study highlighted recently by the Met Office predicts more frequent and severe long-term droughts, at least as severe as that we suffered in 2010, increasing by 146%, at a 4.0°C level of global warming and 86% more frequent by 2.0°C. Along with that, 12 of the 23 UK water companies report operating under ‘serious’ stress around provision of supply.
So we can’t afford to go on thinking that we will always have as much water as we want, all the time, unless we change our habits a little. Current forecasts are that without behaviour changes, our water consumption nationally will continue to rise year after year. Right now, the average UK household uses around 330 litres of water a day.
And the highest usage of water consumption in the home are showers and baths – around 34% of the total.
100-litre bath time
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the figures. If you run an average bath, you’ll use around 80 litres of water, and this could increase to 100 litres if you take a long one, top up with hot water and wash and rinse your hair. Running a bath an inch lower than usual can save around 5 litres of water.
Surely then a shower must use less than that? Well, it all depends on what type of shower kit you have and how long you take.
A study by Unilever revealed that the average shower duration is 8 minutes. A traditional standard shower head will use around 12-15 litres per minute, so that’s between 96 and 140 litres. If you’ve ever taken a power rain shower, you won’t be too surprised to hear that an average 8 minute drenching will use up to 176 litres.
Best eco shower head
If you choose wisely, you can get a quality eco shower head that uses between 5 and 9 litres as minute. The Unilever study advises that an 8 minute shower with average water flow rate uses around 62 litres of hot water and costs around 30p. That would be 90,000 litres a year for the average 4-person family, at a cost of £416.
That factors in the cost of heating the water, so by using less water you save not only energy but also reduce your carbon footprint, which will definitely be better for the environment. We use than 2 billion litres of water each day showering. If each of use took a minute off their shower time every day it would save £215 million on energy bills collectively every year.
The answer to using less water at wash time is to get the best eco shower head you can find and be mindful about how long you are showering for. If you can achieve a shower time of 5 minutes with a shower head that gives you 9 litres per minute with no loss of quality, then at 45 litres, you will be using nearly half what you would if you took an average bath.
It’s possible to squeeze the time down to your favourite song length. How does 4 minutes and 36 litres sound? Great feeling to save massive amount of water every year and help the planet at the same time.