Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Five Minute Shower

It's estimated that the resource of the next hundred years won't be oil, it will be fresh water. Especially if the oceans rise due to climate change, the amount of clean water we have is going to decrease, and aquifers are already getting depleted. Desalinization plants can help, but they're costly in both money and energy. Saving water is our best bet, no matter where we live and how much rainfall we get.

If you live in a dry area, I'm sure you've all heard the basic water saving tips: turning off the water when you brush your teeth, fixing your sprinklers, installing low-flow shower heads, and then some. But here's the paragon of water saving - the 5 minute shower. Every minute you cut off your shower time saves 2.5 gallons. I know that my showers can easily run 15 minutes if I don't pay attention. Shifting to a 5 minute would save me 25 gallons a day, or 175 gallons a week, or 8,750 gallons a year. It adds up quickly, does it not?

I have a friend, Lois, who mandates the Navy-style shower in her house. Since Navy ships have to carry all their fresh water, they certainly know how to conserve it. I've modified it with a magazine article (citation was lost, alas) about taking an effective 15 minute shower.

Begin with turning on the water and cranking it up as hot as possible. This will make it run less before it's warm. Readjust it as you begin to step in.
Soak down and shampoo your hair (I have a lot of hair, so I start here). Turn off the water when you're done.
Now, use this time and warmed-up bathroom to put in conditioner and let it sit, then deal with soap or body wash (or my favorite honey cleanser). When you're done, turn the water back on and rinse.
If you need to shave, I've use a small bowl of water to rinse my razor instead of keeping the water on, or pushed the razor backwards against a cloth. If you're a guy, try shaving over the sink instead of the shower.

The only issue I've found with a 5 minute shower is during the winter, it gets COLD and I don't want to turn off the water! I still haven't found a good counter for this. It does work nicely in the summer, though.

Got ideas? Found a way to combat freezing temperatures? Let me know in the comments!

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