Top 5 Tips for Greening your Bath and Shower

The following in an excerpt from the book “The Ultimate Guide to Greening your Home”.

After washing machines and dishwashers, showers are the third-largest water consumers in the home. With a few simple upgrades and some minor lifestyle adjustments, shower water consumption can be significantly reduced.

1. Opt for a shower instead of a bath – The average bath requires between 30 and 50 gallons of water.  The average water usage for a shower depends on how long you stay in the shower and how much water comes out of your showerhead.  If your have a low-flow showerhead installed and your shower is less than 10 minutes, you’ll be saving water.

2. Install a low-flow showerhead - Many different varieties of low-flow showerheads are available on the market.  These varieties can be found at different price-points and use different methods to restrict water.  Below are a description of the different options available.

Two of the most common methods of restricting water flow are air-rating and pulsing.

  • Air-rating – Aerating showerheads mix air into the water stream, maintaining steady pressure so the spray is even and full.27
  • Pulsing – Non-aerating showerheads add a pulse to the water stream to keep the temperature even.27

A typical 5 minute shower can use up to 40 gallons of water. Installing a low-flow showerhead can save more than 12 gallons per shower. Ultra-low-flow heads conserve even more, using only .8 to 1.5 gpm, reducing the average five-minute shower’s water usage from 40 to 7.5 gallons.28

Prices for low-flow showerheads range from around $10 up to $1000 (for high-end rainwater panels).  Most people will be able to find a showerhead that matches their bathroom decor for well under $50.

3. Time your showers - One of the best ways to reduce your shower water consumption is to reduce your shower time.  A good way to begin is to time your typical shower.  The next time you shower, set the timer for half that time and see if you are able to finish before the timer goes off.

Alternatively, consider buying a shower timer. A shower timer will shut off the flow of water after a predetermined amount of time.  While shower timers may be an effective tool to reduce shower times, we would suggest a few timed runs to make sure you don’t get caught fully lathered.

4. Lower the temperature – Heating water is a significant expense for most households. By reducing the temperatures of your showers (either at the tap or by lowering your hot water heater settings), you will save energy.

If you do not know what temperature your hot water is currently set, try to find this out. Most hot water heaters are set at F 140 at the factory.  Try reducing this temperature by 10 degrees and see if this provides enough hot water for your needs.  If it does, reduce it by an additional 10 degrees.  Most green publications suggest a setting of F 120.

5. Make your shower environment nontoxic and full of organic materials - Many shower environments are full of toxins and VOC releasing materials.  By making the changes below, you can remove these from your bath.

  • Use natural fiber shower curtains and towels – Vinyl shower curtains are inexpensive and provide an effective water barrier, but they also grow mold quickly and release toxins into the environment both during use and their end of life.  Opt for a natural fiber shower curtains and towels instead.
  • Choose natural bathroom cleaners - Conventional household cleaners often contain toxic chemical cleaning agents.  Opt for eco-friendly cleaning products.
  • Use organic, nontoxic personal hygiene products – Soaps, shampoos and shower gels come in direct contact with your skin.  By opting for organic, nontoxic products, you will reduce your exposure to toxic chemicals and lessen your chances for skin irritation.
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  • Anonymous

    This is a very helpful article. I wasn’t aware of the problems with vinyl shower curtains but will change mine after reading this article. In adding to the idea of reducing toxic chemicals from the bathroom, consider installing an NSF certified shower filter such as the one from http://www.WaterChef.com
    By reducing chlorine at the shower head, you also reduce the potential for chlorine vapors to spread throughout the house. Besides, showering in a chlorine free environment does wonders for your hair and skin, and you won’t need to clean the shower quite as frequently. Chlorine chemically etches onto surfaces making it easier for substances such as soap scum to attach.

  • Moth Lubcke

    Hi, excellent article! On the “Generation Adaptation” blog, I’m currently (albeit slowly) putting together a series on Eco-mapping in which I take a general overview of various efficiencies around a property. This article fits in well with what I discussed on water use, providing a more detailed look into it.

    I was wondering if I would be allowed to repost this article on GenA (with a link back here, of course) to support this series?

    • http://twitter.com/CaelusGreenRoom Caelus Green Room

      Hello. Feel free to use the repost the article. If you could link the the site of the book (http://www.greenyourhomeguide.com) it would be much appreciated! I think it would more helpful to readers.

      • Moth Lubcke

        Cheers, will do!

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