Water conservation is an important issue facing many parts of the world today. With climate change and growing populations, freshwater supplies are under stress. Most people are aware of basic water saving tips like taking shorter showers. However, there are also some more unconventional methods that can help reduce your water usage while bathing. Implementing just a few of these techniques can lead to significant water savings over time.
1. Install a low-flow showerhead
One of the easiest ways to cut down on water usage is to install a low-flow showerhead. Conventional showerheads use 2.5 gallons (9.5 liters) of water per minute or more. Low-flow models restrict water flow to around 1.5-2 gallons (5.7-7.6 liters) per minute. This simple swap can conserve hundreds of gallons per person each month. Look for WaterSense certified models that still provide adequate water pressure. I installed a Niagara Earth showerhead last year and have been very happy with its performance. The upfront cost is quickly recouped through lower utility bills.
2. Take “Navy” showers
This technique was developed on naval ships where freshwater supplies were limited. A “Navy” shower means turning the water on only to get wet and to rinse off. You turn the shower off while lathering up. By minimizing the amount of time the water is running, you can cut your shower water usage significantly. It may take some getting used to, but this can become a simple habit that saves water. Turning the shower on and off is also a reminder not to spend too long bathing.
3. Install a flow restrictor
An alternative to changing the entire showerhead is to install a flow restrictor. This is a small device that fits inside your existing showerhead to limit water flow. Flow restrictors are inexpensive and easy to install. However, they may not reduce flow as much as a new low-flow showerhead. I added restrictors to my old showerheads as a temporary measure before upgrading. It still helped curtail water usage.
4. Take shorter showers
You’ve probably heard this tip before, but it bears repeating. Simply reducing your shower time can have a big impact on water usage. Most people shower for 5-10 minutes or longer. Try to keep showers under 5 minutes. Install a shower timer or listen to a few songs as your time limit. Taking shorter showers saves hot water as well. My showers are now 3-4 minutes instead of 8-10 after making a concentrated effort. Those extra few minutes make a difference.
5. Install a thermostatic shut-off valve
Many people waste water waiting for their shower to get hot. A thermostatic shut-off valve stops flow until the water reaches your desired temperature. The valve then diverts water from the showerhead once it has reached the target temp. This both conserves water and prevents that initial burst of cold water when starting your shower. I added one of these valves last month and it works flawlessly.
6. Use a low-flow shower diverter
A shower diverter redirects water from the tub faucet to the showerhead. By adding a low-flow diverter head, you can take a bath and a shower using a lot less water. When you want to rinse off, flip the diverter to direct water to the showerhead. I added one of these to my existing tub setup. Now baths use only around 10 gallons of water rather than 20-30. The diverter has already paid for itself.
7. Bathe with a friend
Showering with a partner, friend, or family member is one unique way to conserve water. By bathing together, you halve the amount of water used per person. It also saves on heating bills if you have electric hot water. Obviously this shower method won’t be practical for many people. But it is an option for families, roommates, or couples looking to reduce their environmental footprint. My girlfriend and I now share showers a few times a week which has lowered our total water usage.
The shower is one of the leading ways we use water every day. By making a few inexpensive tweaks, we can all reduce our consumption dramatically. Using a combination of the techniques above can lead to even greater savings. Conserving water also helps lower energy bills by reducing demands on water heaters and treatment systems. With millions of people making small changes, we can have a big collective impact on freshwater supplies.