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Water Conservation: Do I Have to Shorten My Shower to Save the Earth?

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water conservation

I love taking long showers. I just don’t feel awake and ready to start my day until I’ve had a good, long, hot shower. It's one indulgence I’ve refused to give up since becoming a mom. I will get up early or find a way for the kids to be entertained without me so I can experience that 15 minutes of steamy bliss in the morning.

But....

I feel guilty about it. No, not about leaving my kids to their own devices (unless they’re crying or getting in trouble of course), but about the amount of water I use to take that shower. How can I let so much water go down the drain when much of the third world doesn’t even have clean drinking water, or when many areas of the U.S. are experiencing serious water shortages?

I finally decided to stop living under a rock and address my long shower obsession.

Ideas for Water Conservation

First things first, I analyzed the flow rate of my current shower. To determine whether your shower head meets the energy efficient standards of 2.5 gpm (gallons per minute) or less, place a 2 quart bowl under a fully running shower and count how many seconds it takes to fill up. If it takes less than 12 seconds (mine took exactly 12 seconds) a low flow shower head may be a good idea.

water conservation

Test your water flow by placing a 2-quart bowl under a fully flowing shower for 12 seconds.

If you've reached 2 quarts in less than 12 seconds you could use a low flow shower head!

If you've reached 2 quarts in less than 12 seconds you could use a low flow shower head!

Low flow shower heads reduce water while maintaining pressure by either mixing air into the water stream or by producing a pulsating massage effect. Either way you will be able to rinse the shampoo out of your hair! A quick internet search will bring you countless different styles of low flow shower heads which can save hundreds of gallons of water each month and are surprisingly economical. I found one that costs as little as $5.00!

Second, I had to address my hot water problem. Do you ever turn on the shower, step away while the water heats up and then realize the water has been hot and running for a bit longer than you anticipated? Since my shower is so far from the water heater it takes several minutes to get hot water out of the bathroom taps; I find myself getting distracted during this process more days than not.

The best but more expensive way to solve this problem is to install an instant hot water recirculating system which will stream hot water with the first turn of the shower knob. No waiting, no water loss! Until I have enough saved to make that investment, I found a two-in-one low flow shower head that will bring the flow down to a trickle as the water gets hot and can be turned back to full force once you’re ready to hop in the shower. At least I’m not wasting the hot water anymore!

Left: A hot water recirculating pump by Watts. Right: A low flow shower head by Evolve; 1.5 gpm with a water saving switch

(Left) A hot water recirculating pump by Watts. (Right) A 1.6 gpm low flow shower head by Evolve with an automatic hot water conserving switch.

The last thing I’ve done in effort to reduce water consumption is make long showers a weekend treat. Six days a week, it’s all business. Saturday morning? I’ll take that long shower!

How can you make a difference in saving water this week?

selfportrait (1) Renae Wortz is an editor and writer for momcoloredglasses.com focusing on topics related to wellness and holistic living. Some of her favorite recent articles include: "Detox Week: It's time to get clean", "Is your life balanced? Find out with this fun exercise...", "DIY Skin Renewing Sugar Scrub" and "The Art of Taking a Bath". She also works as a family practice Nurse Practitioner and is mom to two kids.

 

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