The average household uses 30 gallons of water a day for showering, which accounts for nearly a quarter of daily indoor water usage. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), that adds up to 1.2 trillion gallons of water used in the U.S. annually just for showering. Not only is water consumption while showering expensive, but also it's a massive drain on the environment.
Shape Up or Ship Out: Make the Hard Core Switch to Navy Showers
If you want to save money and conserve water, one seriously stingy option is to switch to Navy showers—invented by midshipmen who needed to conserve a ship's extremely limited freshwater supply. Here's how to take a Navy shower: turn on the shower, immediately get your body wet, turn off the shower, soap up, turn on the shower and rinse off. This militant showering strategy only uses about three gallons of water—a mere 10 percent of a typical shower. Now, I would never suggest you do something I wouldn’t do myself. And I relish my leisurely, hot showers (long enough to belt out three Whitney Houston ballads). So for me, Navy showers are out of the question. But you might want to try convincing your kids to take Navy showers by turning it into a "who can shower the fastest" game complete with a stopwatch and a prize.
A Realistic Option: Switch to a WaterSense Low-Flow Showerhead
If Navy showers are a no-go, the easiest (and least traumatic) way to save money while showering is to switch to a low-flow showerhead endorsed by the EPA's WaterSense program.
- The standard showerhead uses 2.5 gallon per minute (gpm); and if you happen to be using an older showerhead—well, that may use up to 8.0 gpm. Low-flow showerheads with the EPA's WaterSense label use 2.0 gpm or less.
- If you're worried about shower quality with a WaterSense showerhead, don't be. Before certifying a low-flow showerhead with the WaterSense label, the EPA commissioned independent laboratories to test the showerheads for water coverage and spray intensity. As such, the EPA ensures that all WaterSense certified showerheads will provide a shower that is equal or better to a shower with a standard showerhead.
- According to the EPA, the average WaterSense showerhead costs about $30. Check out the WaterSense 5-Function Chrome Showerhead for $28.99 at Target.com, the WaterSense Peerless 5 Setting Chrome Showerhead for $12.97 at Walmart.com, and the WaterSense 5-Function Chrome Showerhead for $27.49 at Overstock.com
It Pays to Go Green: Save $72 a Year
I used the EPA's handy Savings Calculator to calculate how much water and energy my household of four would save in one year by switching to a WaterSense Showerhead.
- Water Saved by Using a WaterSense Showerhead: 3,600 gallons of water/year ($22 in water utility bills)
- Energy Saved by Using a WaterSense Showerhead: 500 Kwh of electricity/year ($50 in energy utility bills)
- Total Savings: $72/year (plus the priceless benefit of helping out the environment)
Let’s assume you spend $30 on a WaterSense showerhead. If this new showerhead has an expected life of five years (seems low to me), it will cost about $6 per year. By using it, you are saving $72 per year. That's a whopping 92 percent return on your money over five years. Don't drain your bank account and our country's natural resources: make a switch.