There’s nothing like crawling into the tub for a good soak after a long, strenuous day of gardening, especially if it's cold outside and you’re chilled to the bone. But what exactly is the environmental cost for that bath? Would it be best to take a shower?
Well, the answer isn't actually that straightforward and it depends on a few factors. A standard showerhead uses 2.5 gallons of water per minute (gpm). But hopefully you’re ahead of the game, and you’ve already converted to a water-saving showerhead, which uses 1.5 - 2 gpm. That’s a big water savings right there. So let’s say you take a 7 minute shower. That means you're using 10.5 to 17.5 gallons of water for your shower.
On the other hand, the standard bathtub holds 36 gallons of water. Of course, we all remember what Archimedes taught us back in school, so unless you want a huge mess on the bathroom floor, we're assuming you're not filling the bathtub up to the top (hint-hint). So, if you have your luxurious bath with the tub filled ⅓ to ½ full, then you're using about the same amount of water as a 7 minute shower.
Steps to make sure you're not a bathing waterhog
So, as you can see, the shower vs bath situation isn't clear cut and depends on everyone's specific bathing habits and showerhead flow rates. However, here are three simple guidelines to make sure you're not using more water than you have to while bathing.
1. Use a low-flow showerhead
If you purchased your showerhead before 1994, then it's definitely time to replace it. The EPA enacted restrictions in 1994, which reduced the standard showerhead flow rate to 2.5 gpm (previously, shower heads had a standard flow rate of 5.5 gpm). When buying a new showerhead, look for a Water Sense label. This will ensure that you're getting one with a lower flow rate which will save even more water.
2. Be conscious of how long you're in the shower
Do you tend to take 15 or 20 minute, luxurious showers? You can always turn off the shower while you're lathering up, and we've heard that some people put timers in their showers to make sure it doesn’t go too long. We'll be honest, we've never done either of those things. We’re rushed in life enough as it is, and we don’t want to be under the time clock in the shower also. But, we do typically keep our shower times under 10 minutes.
3. If you just can't get your shower times down, then opt for a bath instead
Remember, tubs that are ⅓ to ½ filled are pretty comparable to a standard 7 minute shower, so that's always an option if you're not a speedy bather!