Some people see showers as a utilitarian invention: It’s an easy way to remove the dirt of the day without the hassle of filling a bathtub. For others, the shower washes off far more than grime: it can be a happy, private space, where some people escape reality and wash away the day’s annoyances, whether it’s an irritating boss or family members who constantly need something. No surprises here— the latter take longer showers, with the former often left fuming in front of the locked bathroom door.
These two very different mindsets can cause arguments. But if information is power, we’ve decided to arm you with the facts you need to make your best pitch for why your shower water usage is exactly the right amount.
Home Water Works says that in most homes, showers are the third-largest user of water after toilets and clothes washers. The average American shower water usage is 17.2 gallons with the average shower length being 8.2 minutes. The average flow rate is 2.1 gallons per minute.
Here’s where this shower water usage can add up, however. Most Americans take just under one shower a day. For the sake of figuring out the potential impact of our shower energy consumption, let’s call it six showers a week. At 17 gallons an average 8-minute shower, that’s 102 gallons of water used in a shower by one person for one week. Multiply that by 52 weeks, and you’ve got a whopping shower water usage of 5,304 gallons in a year for one person or 21,216 gallons for a family of four. And that’s assuming every shower is only 8 minutes long.
A number of variables affect shower energy consumption costs: the efficiency of your hot water heater, the temperature setting, whether or not your hot water heater is powered by gas or electricity, its size (30 vs. 40 gallons, for instance), and, of course, the price of a gallon of water. Water heating is the second largest energy expense in the average home, accounting for about 18% of your energy bill after heating and cooling, Energy.gov says — that’s in part because of the average shower. Length does matter.
We’ll start with the easy math. The average price of water in the U.S. is about $1.50 for 1,000 gallons or less than one cent per gallon. That means the cost of the water is also less than one cent for the average shower length of eight minutes. To determine exact shower energy consumption, try the Energy.gov calculator that lets you plug in the model of your hot water heater and other specific factors. Combine this with your shower water usage and you’ve got your total cost.
Here are some other suggestions for reducing your shower water usage.
If you haven’t put a lot of thought into how you control the temperature in your home, perhaps now is the time to look at the benefits of a smart thermostat. You might be doing just fine with a “regular” wall unit, but you might be able to cross one thing off your daily to-do