52 Weeks: Water – Bathing

There are low flow showerheads available to limit water use in the shower. They can cost anywhere from $8 to $50. You can find them at hardware stores, discount stores, and online at Amazon.com. According to Florida Power and Light, if it takes less than twenty-four seconds for your shower to fill a bucket to the one gallon line, you can save money by switching to a low flow head.

Also useful is the type of showerhead with a handle on it to turn off the water flow. You can have the water off while soaping or shampooing without having shampoo run into your eyes when you lean over to turn the water back on. Or you can buy a controller valve that screws on above your existing showerhead and allows you to turn the water volume down or off. They cost about $10.

I bought one and I like it very much. I have the luxurious feeling of lots of water when it’s on full flow. I can turn it to low flow when I want to and I can turn it off for part of the shower. This method uses less water than just a low flow showerhead but still leaves me feeling like there’s plenty of water in my shower. There are flow-restricting aerators for sink faucets too. Most places I’ve lived already had those in place.

Is It True? Most sources assume that showers use less water than baths. I doubt that’s an absolute. People shower for more or less time and showerheads vary in flow rate. Tubs vary in size and in how much you choose to fill them. You can test this for yourself by putting the plug in the tub drain when you start the shower. See how much water is in the tub when you finish.

I did this with a normal flow showerhead. The tub filled to about where I would have filled it for a bath, nearly full, 32 gallons. And that was a simple shower with no time spent letting the hot water run over my back, no leg shaving, nothing extra. Later I did the same in the shower that has a lower flow showerhead and used 18.6 gallons.

Next, I went back to the full flow shower and took a “military shower.” In a military shower, you get wet all over, turn off the water, soap and shampoo. Then turn the water back on just long enough to rinse off. That used 11 gallons. A military shower in the lower flow shower used 9.13 gallons.

I’ve tested the drought-inspired idea of showering with the drain plugged and then bailing the water from the tub into a bucket for other uses. I thought I might be able to use the shower water for all of the toilet flushing. The bailing was easiest with a lightweight, shallow four-cup plastic food storage container. After a week or so, leaving water in the tub for days made the non-skid strips come loose, so that was the end of that.

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