On not wasting water while bathing

According to this study http://www.princeton.edu/~perc/Percchap6.htm done at Princeton, Students took 12.5 minute showers. If the showers were fitted with the current required 2.5 gallon/minute shower head, the water usage would be 31.25 Gallons per shower. The Princeton study was done because not all their dorm showers had low flow shower heads. Some used as much as 4.25gallons/min which for a 12.5 minute shower translates to 53.125 gallons per shower. The author of the study hoped to show how much money could be saved by switching all shower heads to low flow. Quite a bit it turns out.

At this site http://www.sustainableabq.com/water_tips.htm I copied the following:

The following is a simple bathroom tip to reduce your utility bills. Take showers instead of baths, but limit the length of the showers to five minutes. A typical bathtub requires about 30 gallons for a bath. A standard shower head will flow about 3 gallons per minute. In five minutes, this uses only 15 gallons of water.

Install a low-flow shower head with a sudsing shut-off slide valve. Many common low-flow shower heads have them. While you are sudsing and scrubbing, the sudsing shut-off valve slows the water flow to a trickle. This trickle will maintain the water temperature adjustment and eliminate a shot of very hot or cold water when you slide it open again to rinse. Using a low-flow shower head with one of these valves can cut the total water usage to under ten gallons saving thousands of gallons of water per year.

So you can see, to save water, start by showering instead of bathing in a tub. Then make sure you shower head is low flow. You can see how much your shower uses by holding a bucket under it for one minute. Use a stop watch and get a friend to help if you need to. Use a five gallon bucket and remember water is heavy. If you wrap a washcloth around the shower head you wont have to hold the bucket. Once you know what your flow rate is, you can decide if you need a new head.  As mentioned above, a shut off button is really useful in saving water. If you are buying a new head, make sure it has the shut off.

The last thing to do is take a short shower.  Get wet, turn off the water, soap up, shampoo or otherwise wash hair, turn water on, rinse, condition or vinegar rinse if needed, rinse again and you are done. Three minute shower at 2.5 gallons per minute is 7.5 gallons. Not bad.

Want to do better than that? We take bucket baths at our house. It became necessary for us to do it that way because we set up a makeshift water heater outside.

solar water haeterIt does not connect to the house or shower. So we fill up five gallon buckets with however much water we want according to how hot it is.

bucket for bathingIt can get up to 140F. In that case I only fill to about 2 gallons and carry it in to the shower. I fill it with two  more gallons or to the right temperature. Then I use a one quart plastic container to ladle the water over my head. I find four gallons to be plenty. This is not fun to do in the winter, but then again our solar water heater does not work so well then either. Any day now we will be having our makeshift one replaced with a modern technical solar water heater which will allow us to have solar hot water to all parts of the house.

collection bin  Recently I started standing in this plastic bin to catch the water so we could recycle it as toilet flushing water.

   bathing tubWe use this metal bin to bathe the kids outside. They really like it. They are still young. We can use the water on landscaping after it cools.

The only other tip I could mention is about bathing frequency. In our country it is fairly typical for people to bathe 1-2 times per day. Really think about how much bathing you need to do. Can you just freshen up a bit? Do you really need to wash your hair every day? I bathe twice a week in cooler months and 2-3 times a week in hotter months. If I am just sweaty I could rinse off in a gallon of water. Think about it.



  1. Stephanie said,

    April 26, 2008 at 12:08 am

    Duh, I hadn’t gotten around to looking at my city water authority’s web page – too busy reading blogs until i followed your link to sustainable abq. After reading your tips I realized I do a lot of this already, but without the lower water use appliances, such as the front loader, low flow shower/toilet. So, I finally decided to “take the plunge” and review my past bills online and use the riot calculator. For the past year, our water use was 37% of the national average – pretty good considering we’re in the desert! Last April was our heaviest usage period in the past year and we were able to reduce our use by one usage unit due to using graywater.

    Even though I follow your patters for bathing frequency, when I shower I spend a LONG time under the water. Looks like a low flow shower head is on the horizon – and during crunchy chicken’s challenge I am going to go navy shower/sponge bath.
    I want to set up a simple greywater hose system, but we’re selling our house and unless we spend a lot to make it legit, it’s a code violation. In the meantime, I am catching water as I wash dishes and veggies and dumping it in a bucket. Right now I am watering my compost pile and apple tree with the water. Note to self, water apple tree tomorrow!

  2. April 28, 2008 at 1:39 pm

    Just looked at my water bill since we have been bathing (not showering) and re-capturing the gray water to flush our toilet. It was cut from from 13 CCF to 5 CCF.

    Now I wish I could re-capture the washing machine water.

    Five gallon buckets…the way to go!

  3. wasteweardaily said,

    April 28, 2008 at 3:25 pm

    While doing my research via Google, I came upon that site, and remembered you were from Albuquerque. So I thought would post it. Glad it got you more info. Sounds like you are headed in the right direction at 37% of average. That is great you are doing Crunchy Chickens challenge.
    Unfortunately grey water systems are illegal in many municipalities. Temporary is the way to go for now, for you. Good luck with the challenges and the move to France.

  4. wasteweardaily said,

    April 28, 2008 at 3:29 pm

    I be friendly,
    Sounds like you are doing a great job as well. Is you washer in the basement?
    If it is on you first or second level and near a window it should be easy to do. Let me know if you need any advice about it.

  5. Christine said,

    May 2, 2008 at 3:20 pm

    So here are some dumb questions. Is your hose on the roof attached to an outside faucet? What keeps the water in the hose from just running out the end before it heats up and then how do you get it out when you need it? How long is the hose and how much water does it hold?


  6. wasteweardaily said,

    May 4, 2008 at 1:23 pm

    Hi Christine,
    Not dumb questions at all. I should have explained it in the post. So that more people can benefit from the description I will do a whole post on it.
    Thanks, Cindy

  7. namastelove said,

    January 31, 2009 at 10:28 am

    I totally do the bucket-bath thing! When my old showerhead started leaking and spraying water all over the bathroom I had gone to the gym for a couple days to shower, but one day I didn’t have time to go, and I wanted to be clean for work so I filled my 5 gallon bucket I usually use to mop the floor (after cleaning residue out of it from said mopping)..I just filled it in my kitchen sink with the spray-hose attachment, and got the perfect temperature. I just stood in my shower stall to catch the soapy water from using the bucket, but the idea of catching it for other uses is great. I wish there were a way to funnel leftover bathwater into the washing machine. The Japanese have been using leftover bathwater to do laundry for years.

  8. namastelove said,

    January 31, 2009 at 10:34 am

    I forgot to add that even though I replaced my shower head with a low-flow water saving one that you can shut off while you soap up, I’ve still been primarily still using the bucket. I get perfectly clean with 5 gallons, hair and all, which amazes me when you realize how many gallons of water you waste even w/ a low flow shower head. I work a pretty physical job and work out regularly, and I work with food to boot, so I can’t exactly be showing up to work all stanky, so daily bathing is pretty much a must unless it’s the weekend. But I find the bucket sufficient and only take a “real” shower when I’m really dirty, and I’ve started doing that at the gym instead of at home for convenience’s sake. My roommate tends to bathe a max of 3 days a week as he doesn’t really do much physical labor unless I make him wash the dishes.

  9. Lewis Sanchez said,

    July 13, 2009 at 3:01 pm

    I live in Puerto Rico. We decided to cut down water usage because it (like everything else here) is way too expensive, much moreso than in the states. Here is something to try. Get a garden spray. We purchased a one gallon one and pour hot water in it. I devised a holder from 2×4 wood and one can take a complete shower, including washing hair, with less than one gallon. The pressurized water really suds you up and cleans you as well. My wife was hesitant but tried it one morning and was surprised. She took a complete shower AND washed and conditioned her hair with LESS than 3/4 gallon of water. My little daughter loves it, even more than regular showering. PR gets a lot of hurricanes and tropical storms and the water goes out often. This has been a real lifesaver, and allows us to use our stored water for cooking and drinking, instead of wasting it for showering. We made a rainwater collection system for toilet flushing which has also abeen great. To resolve electrical failures, I installed a solar panel system that provides electricity to every room in the house via an alternate wiring system. We use it every day. Total cost: $941– It runs all the lights, 2 TV, my computer and any other small wattage item I may want to connect. Of course, I changed allthe bulbs t 5 or 9 watts CFL and the TV’s are only using 75 and 57 watts respectively. We don;t even notice the frequent electrical cutoffs now. It’s been great. I m now building a manual washing machine and a vertical axis wind turbine to have even more power. Keeps me busy anyways.

  10. Lewis Sanchez said,

    July 13, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    Also, we hav a solar water heater (save beucoup electricty) and we use all low flow shower heads when taking regular showers, and the garden sprayer only cost $12.00 (dirt cheap I think).

  11. February 6, 2011 at 7:32 pm

    ~’. that seems to be a great topic, i really love it ‘:’

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