Get out of the shower

Written by pete


The first serious winter storms have finally arrived in California, but it seems unlikely that we’ll get close to making up the water we badly need to get out of the current drought. So it seems a good time to remind everybody of the benefits of short showers.

**How this helps**

A shorter shower not only saves water, but also saves on the energy used to heat that water. A typical non-conserving showerhead will spray over five gallons per minute (GPM), so cutting your shower from eight minutes to three will save a whopping 25 gallons of water. That’s enough to fill an olympic pool over a lifetime of showers. Of course you should really use a low flow showerhead, which will save you even more.

**More information**

How to shower quickly from wikiHow

**Related tips**

– Buy a low-flow showerhead
– Don’t let the hot water run for a long time before you get in
– Capture the waste water from your shower and use it on your garden

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  1. Dave

    Actually… if you have to choose just one of these options, a low-flow shower head is better than cutting your 5 gpm 8-minute shower to 3 minutes. My low-flow showerhead is rated at 1.5 gpm, and has a cutoff valve which can damper it down to any level– evan to a trickle or off– for a moment, to soap up or step out and grab some more shampoo, etc. This feature is best because I can return to my normal flow and temperature settings in an instant. Instead of standing around for 30 seconds or more trying to get them reset for optimum comfort.
    Cutting 5 minutes off an 8 minute shower is 63 percent savings. Going from 5 gpm to 1.5 gpm is a 70 percent savings. With the same amount of water the 5 gpm 3 minute person uses, I can shower for a full 10 minutes.
    Back in the 1950s, Buckminster Fuller experimented with “fog shower” technology that would basically use a pressurized mist to clean you off. That sort of approach could probably deliver full shower cleaning with less than a gallon of water.
    C’mon, people, it’s not rocket science! It’s just hot water and pipes. We can do better. For carbon footprint reduction as well as water resource conservation.

  2. Russ in San Diego

    We have a low-flow shower head, and I’ve been taking short showers (almost certainly less than 3 minutes of flow time) for years (rinse hair, stop flow, shampoo, start flow, wet down, stop flow, soap up, start flow, rinse down, done!).
    I have been completely unsuccessful in convincing my better half to adopt similar practices.
    In fact, she would regularly run the hot water for 4 or 5 minutes while puttering around, to make sure it was hot before she got in. (The water gets hot within 30 seconds.) I picked up a Ladybug valve (after clearing it with her), and that’s solved THAT problem.

  3. K Chan

    During last summer I experimented taking cool showers. It was a bit uncomfortable the first few times but then when I got used to it, it actually gave me great feeling during and after the shower. With my short and thinning hair, actually the time to take a cold shower was less than 3 minutes. Try it, my “green” friends.

  4. Ted O'Neill

    I have used cutoff valves that can shut off the flow of water between rinsing and soaping that in effect makes it a 3 minute shower versus total time standing in a sower stall with out losing your water setting. It matters more how long your water runs than how long you stand in a stall or tub. Maybe I am missing something here, but there are easier ways to cut water and energy use than reducing time in a “quick” shower with the water running the whole time.

  5. John M.

    I believe I have the same low-cost showerhead ($7) as Dave. Due to lower well-water pressure, the actual flow in my house is about 9 pints per minute. I don’t feel the need to shorten my typically 8 minute shower, especially when greater savings are achieved when we share. 🙂

  6. merlin

    Why do Americans have to shower every day? Most of the world’s people don’t – and if they did, we’d all be in trouble. Most of us can get clean enough with a quick sponge bath at the sink – using maybe 1 quart of water rather than many gallons. Save the shower for days when you get dirty – or think of it as a luxurious treat, not a necessity. And even as a treat, a couple minutes is still delicious.

  7. Kirsten

    It’s less realistic for a woman to always take a 3 minute shower when we shave most of our body hair off. Try shampooing and conditioning long hair while at the same time shaving your armpits and both legs…
    A low flow shower head and showering every other day seem like much more realistic options… The shower head that Dave wrote about with the quick shut-off seems perfect.

  8. DontShowerEveryDay

    Friends, this is all great advice, but per the comment by Merlin, you do not have to shower every day.
    I shower ~3 times per week. Given my normal 9-5 desk job, I don’t sweat much during the day. If I exercise (gym, biking, etc), of course I shower right afterwards. But otherwise I can go for 3-4 days (hair gets a little tussled after that). It’s that simple. You won’t stink, I promise.
    I used to live in Europe where I would shower once or twice a week (again, depending on my level of activity). In the mornings a quick wash-cloth body scrub was all it took to feel fresh.
    Apart from the water savings, what I like about not showering every day is the TIME I save. Take your average 10 minute shower, then add in undressing, drying off and re-dressing, and you’ve saving close to 20 minutes….

  9. aaron

    Great advice everyone. I would love to not shower everyday, but I ride my bike to and from work everyday. So this doesn’t make me smell too great after a couple days and no shower. I’ll definitely look into the shower heads though. I’m one who currently takes probably 15 min showers (half of the time waking up). So I think I’ll start by cutting my time much shorter and going from there.

  10. Tom Harrison

    I have reviewed a number of low-flow shower heads; the ones you can buy at Home Depot mostly are terrible and make people think there’s not a good solution. But I now have found at least three great 1.5GPM shower heads, all of which save about 40% of the water of a standard shower head.
    It is possible to take short showers — I have a timer that I set for 5 minutes, and easily beat by a minute or more most days. There are several good products that help you become aware of how long your showers are.
    Still, my wife shaves in the shower, so the real key there is getting a shower head that spits out enough water to keep her warm and rinse as needed during the process, and no more. We like the various Oxygenics models for this feature.
    I salute anyone who re-uses the several gallons of cold water that come out of the tap before the water gets hot. For me, this takes less than 10 seconds; for those who can’t wait the Evolve Ladybug (or that combined with their RoadRunner low flow head) is a good bet.
    Shorter showers using less water can save dramatic amounts of water and energy. But don’t forget to turn your hot water heater temperature down, too.
    All three can save energy and water and you’ll be just as happy and clean. If you are a sweet smelling person, shower less, too (I would lose my job and wife if I didn’t shower daily :-). And don’t wash clothes that aren’t dirty … and use cold water.

  11. ways to save

    Most people do not realize that nearly 30% of our energy use in the US goes into pumping water in and out of our homes. It we pump clean water in it is then pumped back to a plant to treat it and then once again pumped out to the ocean. Saving water is a big key to being green. The shower and the toilet are the really big personal uses of water. You guys seem to have the shower down. I installed a new thing for my toilet call selectaflush it works great. It converted my toilet into a dual flush the whole thing only cost around $39.00 and my husband installed it in an hour. Give it a try as it really is painless compared to not taking a shower. Take a look at: if you want to give it a try.

  12. Amara

    My home shower literally takes a couple of minutes to heat up. So I shower at the gym instead – the showers are used frequently, so it’s hot right away. Rinse-turnoff-shampoo/soapup-turnon-rinse. I would guess that the water’s on for a less than 2 minutes.

  13. Tom Harrison

    Hi @ways to save —
    I am very interested in your stat on home water energy use — 30% of energy use from water seems plausible, but higher than I have seen. Do you have a source for this number?

  14. Sally

    If you have ever been camping or backpacking then short showers, or not showering every day,is not difficult. Washing up in and icy stream can be quite invigorating. While on the road living in a VW van for 6 weeks, we would fill gal. plastic jugs with water and set them on the dashboard to warm in the sun. At night, I learned how to wet down, wash my hair, shave my legs, and rinse, all with that gallon. We need to all be aware of our water consumption and to stop polluting what we have.

  15. Russ in San Diego

    I’m an American. If I’m not engaging in sweaty activity, I shower only once or twice a week. Otherwise, most of the time, I only shower after a workout at the gym, 3 times a week.

  16. Valerie Palmer Ontario Canada

    My son lives in Melbourne Australia, everyone is asked to conserve water by keeping a bucket in the shower stall to catch the water whilst showering. This is the only water that can then be used on plants in the house and garden or cleaning the car. Seems to me that we could do the same thing. North Americans are the most wasteful people I know! Having been bought up in the U.K. after WW11, there was not much to buy and little money to buy, just the necessary. If it got broken we fixed it or did without. We ALL Need to distinguish needs from wants!!!

  17. Rose

    I grew up on a farm. We did not even have a shower, and had cold running water in the sink only. We heated water on our wood stove, and took “bucket baths” (outside if it was warm enough), using a sponge and maybe a gallon (at most, two) of water. Yes, this was in the US, and only about 15-20 years ago.
    Unfortunately now that I’m grown up and live in the city, I am totally spoiled, and LOVE my long hot showers (plus I live in a much colder climate now). But I do use a very awesome low-flow shower head (even if I only turn the water on halfway, I can adjust it so it feels like it’s full-blast). I know I still could do better, but my apartment is freezing in the winter, and a hot shower feels sooo good…. (I know, I know — it’s no excuse.)

  18. dayna tate

    is it posible to ask how much water you use in 3 or 4 minutes