News

Showers vs. Baths: facts, figures and misconceptions

24 November 2011

Any opportunity to promote water efficiency in the media is welcomed by Waterwise. However, contrary to conclusions drawn from a recent study, baths are not necessarily more eco friendly than showers.

In addition to our own research on water efficiency any work done by other agencies and companies that contribute to the evidence base for water efficiency (and our understanding of how people use water in their homes) is valuable. But recent headlines suggesting that baths could be more eco-friendly than showers can easily be misunderstood; while it‟s true that power showers can use more water than a bath, most showers use significantly less water than baths.

According to the study, the average eight-minute shower used 62 litres of hot water, and some power
showers can use up to 136 litres, compared with an average bath's 80 litres. Our own research shows
that a „waterwise shower‟ – getting the job done in four minutes under a water-efficient showerhead –
uses just 32 litres. As well, new aerated, regulated or optimised showers can give the feel of a power
shower without the wastage. Even four minutes under a water-inefficient power shower is still more
waterwise than the average bath.
And using less water in the bathroom isn‟t just about the environment – there is a strong link between
the hot water you use and the size of your energy bill. From the dishwasher to the bathtub, saving water
saves money.i
Regardless of whether you choose to shower or bath, there are simple ways to save yourself time, water
and money. For example:
Fill up baths with just the amount of water you need – no need to fill right to the top
Shower or bathe with a friend
Install a water efficient showerhead – many are available for less than £30 – and the savings on
your water and energy bill mean you‟ll get that money back in less than a year
Take a shorter shower – by cutting a minute or two off the time you spend under the water – and
you can save yourself time and a few quid off your energy bill and more if you‟re on a water
meter.
Jacob Tompkins Managing Director, Waterwise
“The energy associated with heating water in the home is about 5 per cent of UK CO2 emissions and it's
around a quarter of energy bills. That‟s a big piece of our carbon footprint, and a big chunk of household
bills."
"Switching from baths to showers generally saves water, as long as you‟re not installing a massive
power shower with a pump on"
“Most people can enjoy a nice hot shower and get clean in 5 minutes. Any more time than that and it‟s
time and money going down the drain.”

According to the study, the average eight-minute shower used 62 litres of hot water, and some power showers can use up to 136 litres, compared with an average bath's 80 litres. These findings have been widely reported - in the Daily Mail, The Independent and the BBC, among others.

Our own research shows that a 'waterwise shower' – getting the job done in four minutes under a water-efficient showerhead –uses just 32 litres.

As well, new aerated, regulated or optimised showers can give the feel of a powershower without the wastage. Even four minutes under a water-inefficient power shower is still morewaterwise than the average bath.And using less water in the bathroom isn‟t just about the environment – there is a strong link between the hot water you use and the size of your energy bill. From the dishwasher to the bathtub, saving water saves money.

Regardless of whether you choose to shower or bath, there are simple ways to save yourself time, water and money. For example:

  • Fill up baths with just the amount of water you need – no need to fill right to the top
  • Shower or bathe with a friend
  • Install a water efficient showerhead – many are available for less than £30 – and the savings on your water and energy bill mean you'll get that money back in less than a year
  • Take a shorter shower – by cutting two minutes off the time you spend under the water you can save about 40 quid off your combined energy and water bills annually if you're on a water meter. (And imagine what you could do with the extra 12 hours of time this would save you every year!)

Here are some more tips on how to save water

Our press release on the recent media coverage on the showers vs. baths issue

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