/ Home & Energy

Are you prepared to cut your shower time in half?

On average we apparently spend eight minutes in the shower. That’s double what we should be spending. And I mean ‘spending’ quite literally – at 30p a pop, UK families are wasting £416 a year keeping clean.

Put your left hand up if you’re a shower person, or your right hand up if you prefer a bath. Put your left hand down if you shower for less than five minutes.

If your hands are by your side, well done, you’re being relatively good to the environment. However, for some reason I expect most of you still have your arms dangling in the air, dripping wet from all the water you’re wasting.

Almost as much as a bath

A new survey by Unilever has found that the average shower lasts eight minutes – that’s 62 litres of hot water washing down your plug hole, compared to the average bath’s 80 litres.

The average shower was previously thought to be under five minutes, but this was based on anecdotal questionnaires asking people how long they thought they were in the shower. That obviously wasn’t terribly reliable, so Unilever took a more objective response.

No, they didn’t stand next to people showering with a stopwatch and clipboard. Instead, Unilever used ‘data loggers’ attached to the shower pipe of 100 families recording 2,600 showers over a 10-day period.

Why are we spending so long in the shower?

To be honest, I didn’t think eight-minute showers wasted so much water. I’ll get the stopwatch out next time, as I’m sure I’m in the water for about that long. But there’s a bigger sting than just the shampoo in my eyes – I use a power shower.

An eight-minute power shower uses 136 litres, nearly twice as much as taking a bath, and will cost about 63p. I shower once a day (unless I’m being a slob) so that’s me spending £230 a year on keeping clean and wasting almost 50,000 litres of sparkling clean steaming hot water. Am I worth it? Probably not.

But I’m not the worst. Some people I know have two showers a day, and even shower closer to the half an hour mark…

Tips to save water when you shower

Paula Owen, an independent environmental consultant, told the BBC that four-minute showers are optimal:

‘The results here show that the average time spent in a shower is double that. This wastes not only water, but also the energy needed for heating the water.

‘If you are partial to singing in the shower, pick a short pop classic to shower to; and when lathering up think about turning the flow off until you’re ready to rinse.’

If those tips don’t float your boat, I have some others to save water when you shower:

  • Invest in a water-saving shower head.
  • Keep your showers to no longer than five minutes, or use a water-saving timer that lets you know when you’ve exceeded 35 litres.
  • Try not to run your shower before you get in – keep your shower set at your preferred temperature so you don’t have to spend time adjusting before use.
  • Use a less powerful setting to reduce water use, or select the eco shower setting if you have one.
  • Over time, the water that escapes from a dripping shower adds up – get it fixed to avoid needless water waste.

So does this peek into Britons’ cleaning habits compel you to spend less time in the shower?

Comments
Member

This expression “power shower” is quite misleading. The reality is one needs to install a pump in British homes to bring a shower up to the normal water pressure of most industrialised countries. A so-called “power shower” is just a normal pressure shower. A non-pumped British shower is inadequate and is laughed at by foreign tourists. It is extraordinary that after many British householders have finally rectified the problem of low water pressure, we are now being told we should reduce the pressure again.

Member

I dont know how we managed before showers with 1/2 baths ( shared) a week and a washdown with a flannel in between.
Think of the water and energy we saved plus the saving on moisturiser creams, shampoos and shower gels !

Member

My 36 year old 6kW electric shower produces a gentle spray of warm water. It does not use much electricity or water compared with modern power showers. I use the shower every day, so I don’t feel the need to be pressure washed.

Member

Good to hear, but doesn’t sound too enjoyable. I have to say I dislike dribbling showers, especially in the winter.

The question is, how long do you spend?

Member

I suppose it depends on what you are used to. I have a wall-mounted fan heater in the bathroom, which makes the small room nice and warm very quickly and helps to avoid condensation. I have always hated cold bathrooms and it is little compensation to have a hot shower.

Member

Having timed myself several times, I spend no more than 5 minutes in the shower.

Member

Pretty good Wavechange, quicker than me.

Member

I have to hold my (left) hand up here – I’m a ‘shower person’, and I probably do spend up to 8 minutes showering some days, especially when washing hair. It’s particularly hard in cold weather to drag yourself back out of the shower, so I often stay in for ‘just a bit longer’! I try to be as frugal and green as possible, but this has to be my biggest weakness. I’d be intrigued to time myself for a few days to discover how long I’m taking!

Member

It is overall use of power and resources that matters so it does not matter that we have personal extravagances.

You are spending a long time in the shower and I am overheating my bat