Bath vs Shower Water Usage

Bath Vs. Shower Water Usage & Tips to Reduce Water & Energy

We all know that water is a precious resource, so it's important to understand how we use it. This article will examine the difference between bath and shower water usage from an environmental perspective.

We'll compare average individual usage for a bath vs. shower, discuss the impact on energy consumption, and provide tips for reducing your water footprint and saving money.

Bath Vs. Shower Water Usage Comparison

cloth man turning on a shower
Photo by Alex Green

Average Water Usage For A Bath

A bath is typically more water-intensive than a shower and typically uses 35-50 gallons of water. The amount of water used will depend on how full the tub is and its size – if you fill the tub halfway, you can estimate twice the water usage compared to an average ten-minute shower. 

Furthermore, hot water use in baths and showers contributes significantly to energy consumption. So while a hot soak may be relaxing for our bodies and souls, it inevitably harms the environment and will increase your water bill. 

Average Water Usage For A Shower

An 8-minute shower with an older showerhead can use up to 62 liters (approximately 16.4 gallons) of heated water. On the other hand, a low-flow showerhead is designed to use less water per minute. 

For example, a low-flow showerhead with a flow rate of 6 liters per minute would only use 48 liters (12.7 gallons) of water during an 8-minute shower. In this case, a low-flow showerhead saves more than 1/4 of the water the older showerhead uses during an 8-minute shower.

Lower flow options still provide an enjoyable experience due to thoughtful design features like customizable spray settings and larger heads that provide wider coverage without sacrificing precious water resources.

Environmental Impact Of Water Usage

The environmental impact of water usage depends on how much water is used and the different ways it is used. Discovering what makes up your water footprint can help you make sustainable decisions to reduce your impact on nature while still enjoying a personal bath or shower.

Water Conservation

Water conservation is an important part of our environmental efforts. Installing low-flow showerheads and waterproof shower timers can result in significant water savings, especially when combined with shorter showers and plugging the bathtub drain while filling it.

Low-flow showerheads effectively reduce hot water usage in the home1—research shows that they can decrease water usage by 37%, energy consumption by 25%, and CO2 emissions by 26%.

Waterproof timers force users to set a timer for their showers, encouraging them to keep them relatively short and to conserve water (the average shower lasts 8 minutes). 

Read more: Why Is Water Conservation Important?

Energy Consumption

When it comes to water usage, showers and baths both have a significant impact on our environment. Water heating for baths and showers accounts for up to 20% of household energy usage, according to the Department of Energy, so reducing the amount of heated water used can help save electricity at home (if you have an electric water heater), saving energy, and lowering your carbon footprint.

If you live in a warm climate or are brave enough, you can also opt for cold showers or reduce the water temperature in the morning, which will certainly help with those energy savings. 

Additionally, starting your bath fill cold instead of letting the water run until hot and reducing the temperature is another great way for people who bathe regularly to reduce their environmental footprint by using significantly less energy during bathing. 

Read more: Importance of Saving Energy.

Tips For Reducing Water Use When Showering or Bathing

runnnig shower
Definitely don't leave the shower running when not in use. Photo by Alberto Zanetti on Unsplash

Consider installing a low-flow showerhead, taking shorter showers, utilizing a waterproof shower timer, and plugging the bathtub drain while filling the tub to reduce water usage. These eco-friendly tips will also save money on your bills!

Use Low Flow Showerheads

The low-flow option is one of the simplest and most efficient ways to reduce water usage. Low flows are designed to limit the amount of water that flows through, typically at 2 gallons per minute (GPM) or less, compared to conventional showerheads, which can use up to 5 GPM or more quite easily.

To earn the WaterSense label from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), showerheads must use 2 gallons per minute (GPM) or less. Many options on the market already surpass this standard, using 1.5 GPM or even less.

The benefits of using a low-flow showerhead, such as an EPA WaterSense labeled product, are significant for both the environment and your wallet. By choosing a water-saving option, you can conserve thousands of gallons of water annually and save hundreds of dollars on your energy bill due to decreased hot water consumption from shorter showers. 

Furthermore, installing a low-flow showerhead may ease restrictions on outdoor irrigation systems during periods of drought or water shortages, making them an environmentally friendly choice with immediate effects when watering your plants and gardens outdoors.

Take Shorter Showers

Shorter showers are one of the most straightforward changes to reduce your water footprint and conserve resources. Reducing your shower time by just one additional minute can save up to 60 gallons each month, substantially saving water and energy.

Using low-flow showerheads instead of standard showerheads also helps limit the amount of water used since they only allow a max of 2.5 gallons of water/min compared with traditional models, which typically use around 4 or 5 gallons of water/min.

Installing a waterproof timer in the bathroom is another great way to keep track of your time, as this will ensure you stick to shorter showers instead of wasting unnecessary amounts of water.

Install A Waterproof Shower Timer

Installing a waterproof shower timer is an easy and effective step towards being more sustainable. By limiting shower time, a shower timer can significantly reduce water consumption and energy use, leading to lower bills and cost savings.

With 8-10 minutes being the average shower length for most people, installing a 5-minute hourglass or another type of waterproof shower timer will help remind users to keep their showers short and save hundreds of gallons of water each month.

Using a timer also helps give individuals autonomy over controlling their water usage by allowing them to set specific limits for each session instead of relying on others around them.

It also creates homes that are more conscious about environmental protection without sacrificing comfort or luxury in bath experiences.

Plug The Bathtub Drain While Filling The Tub

Plugging the bathtub drain while filling a tub can reduce water usage and energy consumption. This easy step helps prevent precious gallons of hot water from spilling down the drain unnecessarily, allowing only the desired amount of water to fill the tub.

Not only does plugging the bathtub drain reduce total water at home use and waste with refillings for temperature adjustments, but it also lessens energy needs because it greatly reduces the heating time for hot showers or baths, which require more than half an hour of new warm water replenishment activity just to maintain optimal temperatures within them.

Read more: How to Reduce Water Waste at Home? And you might also like our article on how to go plastic-free in the bathroom for more wash-time eco-friendly tips.

Conclusion

Choosing a bath vs. shower water usage plan is a personal choice that needs to consider your lifestyle needs, available time, and the amount of water you want. Studies show that showers use less water than baths on average, but this varies depending on the equipment used and individual style of taking showers or baths.

To conserve more water when bathing or showering, we recommend installing a low-flow showerhead and faucet, using shorter showers, or limiting filling the tub to half capacity.

Reusing bathwater for cleaning purposes or watering plants can also help reduce our overall water usage while saving money on energy bills.

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1

Wong, L., Mui, K., & Zhou, Y. (2016). Impact Evaluation of Low Flow Showerheads for Hong Kong Residents. Water, 8(7), 305.

Jen’s a passionate environmentalist and sustainability expert. With a science degree from Babcock University Jen loves applying her research skills to craft editorial that connects with our global changemaker and readership audiences centered around topics including zero waste, sustainability, climate change, and biodiversity.

Elsewhere Jen’s interests include the role that future technology and data have in helping us solve some of the planet’s biggest challenges.

Photo by Taryn Elliott
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