Energy tip #8: slow and low, that is the shower flow

showerhead.gifIf you like singing in the shower but are concerned about conserving water, you’re faced with a interesting challenge: you can either find a shorter song to sing or put up $10 for a low-flow shower head and continue pleasing the neighbors with quite possibly the best versions of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” they’ve ever heard.

The nice thing about some of the newer low-flow shower heads is that they maintain high water pressure. Older versions simply let the water trickle. The newest versions push the water through smaller apertures and mix in air to create enough pressure to take off even the most viscous of supermarket soaps.

The end result is a product that leaves you clean and green. Looking at the numbers we find for California):

Cost of low-flow showerhead: $10 or less
Water bill savings: $50-75 per year
Energy bill savings: $20-50
Total savings: $70-125
CO2 savings per year: 250-625 lbs.

So there you have it, no more “I’m just a poor boy, from a poor family…” guilt. Sing about the 250-625 lbs. of CO2 you reduced and feel good about your actions. You can also leverage a portion of the savings to help fund clean energy and offset your automobile with a Road TerraPass.

Last week 34 people committed to lightening their car’s load (Tip #7), which translates into 26,010 lbs. of CO2 reduced or rougly 2 cars off the road. Let’s keep it going! Feel free to discuss you own experiences and wisdom in our comments section.

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  1. Ernest Callenbach - August 23, 2006

    Some sophisticated public water supply agencies, like the East Bay Municipal Utility District in northern California, have offered free low-flow showerheads to their customers. Quite aside from the ecological benefits, this makes economic sense to suppliers as well as consumers, and ought to be pushed as a nationwide thing! (Another reason to oppose water privatization, incidentally.)

  2. Anonymous - August 23, 2006

    Could somebody recommend a brand of head showers? Thank you!

  3. Claire - August 24, 2006

    Reducing your frequency of bathing or showering to every other day or every three days can further reduce your bathing water consumption. Really, daily showering is more cultural than healthful anyway. Showering every other day instead of every day instantly reduces it by 50%! Learning that it is not necessary to wash your clothes each time they are worn is another area where we can really find a water use reduction. If you are in a municipality where water is metered, you can realize a significant savings.

  4. disdaniel - August 25, 2006

    {Disdaniel carefully comments upwind of Claire}
    I’m interested in low flow shower heads, but I’m afraid of getting stuck with the kind that deliver a mist instead of a shower, I ran into too many of those in the bay area (admittedly that was 15 yrs ago) and never felt that I got a decent shower…can anyone tell me about a low flow make/design that still provides a nice shower experience with less water.

  5. Rob - August 25, 2006

    Another thing to do (in conjunction with a low-flow shower head) is to turn the flow down to a gentle trickle while you’re soaping yourself, then turn the flow back up to rinse off.

  6. Claire - August 27, 2006

    Did I say anything about not washing? The body parts that require daily washing can be washed without standing in a shower for 20 minutes. In fact, a quart of water will finish the job nicely. In parts of the world where water IS scarce and conservation is truly practiced, people do not stand in a shower every day. Disdaniel need not fear standing downwind…he probably knows people who don’t shower every day right now…they are secretly among us… On the serious side, I argue against an attitude of “give me some technology so I can continue to live just as I do now without feeling guilty about it” instead of reflecting on how many of our “needs” are truly necessary. As an aside, daily bathing and washing clothes after every wearing is a recent development.

  7. Anonymous - August 30, 2006

    Additional benefits of Claire’s approach to showers: It is only since the large porducers/suppliers of bath and shower products have started their major promortional campaigns that long hot daily showers and baths have become the norm. As a marketing tool, it is great. Lengthy ablutions require far more soap, shanpoo and other luxuries and are murder on the skin, which means that one now needs moisturizers to combat the results of such an unatural amount of hot water. All these products of course require plastic conatiners, have to be shipped long distances, carried home, then disposed of. More pollution at every level.
    The old fashioned method of washing what needs to be washed, and a light dusting of a body powder with baking powder in it, will keep all but those doing heavy labour feeling fresh on even a hot day.

  8. Russ - December 1, 2007

    I switched from a 2.5 GPM shower head to a low flow 2.0 shower head. That saved .5 GPM.

    Then I saved 6-8 gallons while soaping up by using my new Shower On/Off Switch.

    It’s called the Shower Switch and you can go to Drought Busters to get them.