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Showers vs. Baths: Which One Saves More Water?

In areas of drought, water conservation is considered to be of paramount importance. Since the bathroom is probably where homeowners use the most water, the question then becomes which is better for water conservation: showering or bathing?

White Bathroom with Shower and Bathtub

The answer isn't as clear-cut as some would like to believe. There are a few variables at play here, including:

  • What kind of shower head you use
  • How big your bathtub is
  • The length of the shower you take
  • How much water you put in the bathtub
  • Which one makes you feel cleaner

Obviously, this makes the decision a personal one based on the size of your household, the type of equipment you use, and even personal preference. If you don't feel as clean after a bath, for instance, you'll be more likely to use more water later, washing your hands or even taking a shower afterward.

Homeowners who take both baths and showers are often the biggest offenders when it comes to water conservation, so if saving water is at the top of your list, it's best to make a decision and stick with it.

How Much Water Does a Shower Use?

When it comes to water conservation in showers, the type of showerhead you use matters greatly. Showerheads made before 1993 use the most water and can waste up to 3-8 gallons per minute. "Standard" showerheads available is most hardware stores today use around 2.5 gallons per minute and "low-flow" showerheads average at about 1.5 gallons per minute.

Sustainable Shower Head

This means that an average 8-minute shower will use between 12 and 24 gallons of water, but up to 64 gallons if you have a particularly bad showerhead. If you are able to take a three-minute power shower, those numbers are slashed down to 5 - 8 gallons per use.

How Much Water Does a Bath Use?

With bathtubs, the number of gallons used is a bit clearer, but the exact figure varies with each bathtub model and the personal tastes of each homeowner that uses it. For instance, a deep-seated clawfoot bathtub will obviously use much more water than a converted shower/bath.

Bathroom With Bathtub

Apart from size, the amount of water you put in the bathtub is also instrumental to water conservation. It may seem obvious, but it may be a revelation to homeowners that the bathtub does not need to be filled up all the way. If you prefer it filled to the brim then go ahead, but the numbers break down like this:

A standard bathtub can hold 30-45 gallons of water. When filled only 1/3 full and factored for water displacement, a homeowner can reduce that number to 7.5 - 15 gallons per use. A freestanding bathtub might hold as much as 60-80 gallons, so be careful when filling up your tub if you live in an area where water isn't as plentiful.

Cutting Down Usage

It's one thing to make a decision for yourself and stick to it and quite another to make sure that the other people in your household take it as seriously as you do. Remember, water conservation is a group effort. By asking the other members of your household to think about the decisions they make when it comes to how they get clean, you can help make sure that there will be enough water for future generations to come.

Sources -
1 - http://avonlakewater.org/for-our-customers/how-much-water-do-i-use-when-i/
2 - http://www.sacbee.com/news/state/california/water-and-drought/article2591077.html