If you don’t know exactly how much water you use in your shower or bath, it’s difficult to figure out which of the two, showers or baths, use less water.
Do baths or showers use less water? If we assume that one bath is 40 minutes long and that the average shower lasts 4 minutes, then we can calculate that a single bath will use about 50 gallons of water and a 10-minute shower will use about 2 gallons of water.
Generally, baths use more water than showers.
But to make an accurate comparison it all depends on how powerful your shower is (the flow rate) and how much water you use in your bath.
Fun facts: The term “shower” is derived from the old word “shert”, which is Norwegian for “to wash”. The word “baths” (also called “bathes” or “bathos”) comes from the Greek word βαθύς (bathys), meaning deep.
Why showers vs baths are better for the environment
Showers are better for the environment than baths because generally, they use up to 70% less water. Don’t forget you have to heat that water too, which means a greater carbon footprint and a higher gas bill.
It’s important for the environment to save water because it is a limited resource. In some countries, water is very scarce indeed. Treating water so that it is safe to use is expensive.
You use 70% less water when you are in the shower than when you are in the bath. There is no comparison, a bath uses much more water than a shower. A bath uses 50 gallons of water, and a leaky faucet can waste up to 100 gallons of water per day. A shower only uses two gallons of water and is not likely to cause wastage.
Following the tips in this article should get you an approximate 70% saving on water and you can help more by using a water-saving showerhead (they don’t reduce the water pressure so you hardly notice the difference).
When you are on a budget and need to rein in spending, reducing your water and gas bill is going to help you achieve your saving goals.
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Beware of the power shower
Is your shower head pumping water out so fast it’s nearly a jet? It’s not just you! Most showers are pretty powerful. If you have a power shower, it’s probably giving your bathroom about 75 gallons of water every four minutes.
In that case, you are best off taking a long bath instead or changing your shower head for something that uses less water.
The great news is that a water-saving showerhead does not mean a less powerful shower. This one claims to reduce water consumption by 50% whilst maintaining the pressure.
How to check for sure how much water you are using in your shower
Of course, the 70% saving bandied about is dependent on the flow rate of your shower and how long you have the water running. The actual money-saving figure will vary based on the price you pay for your gas, electricity and water.
So how can you check for sure how much water you typically use for your daily shower?
Here are some steps to follow:
- Run your shower into a bucket for 15 seconds
- Measure the amount of water in the bucket
- Estimate how much time you typically spend in the shower and convert that time into seconds
- Divide the time you spend in the shower by 15
- Multiply the above figure by the amount of water you had in the bucket.
- You should now have a figure for the total about of water you use for your shower
If you have a shower bath you can easily do a comparison by plugging the bath when you shower.
If the water you have at the end is less than you would typically use for a bath, then your shower is more efficient than taking a bath.
How to save more water in the shower
If you have worked out that in your particular case the shower is the best for saving water, why not save even more?
Here are four tips that guarantee you will always use far less water in the shower than in a bath.
Tip #1 – Take shorter showers
It seems obvious, but how much time do you really need to get clean? And do you need the water running 100% of the time?
For the actual washing phase, you very probably don’t need any water at all.
- Get yourself wet
- Turn off the water
- Lather up and wash
- Turn the water back on to rinse off
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Tip #2 – Switch your shower head to one that saves water
Choose a water-saving showerhead instead. The best ones don’t reduce the water pressure, so you hardly notice a difference.
Avoid showers with multiple heads and fixed position body sprays.
Tip #3 – Don’t waste water
How much water do you waste waiting for the water to warm up?
While you are waiting for warmth put a bucket in the shower to catch the water and then use it for flushing the loo or watering the plants.
Tip #4 – Switch to a cold shower
Not for the faint-hearted, but turning the temperature down is going to guarantee you spend less time in it! Cold showers are said to be very invigorating.
How to save water in the bath
It’s true that fewer of us take baths nowadays. But sometimes you just need one to help you relax and for an occasional treat.
Fun fact: It is believed that bathtubs were used as early as 5000 B.C., which predates the earliest known hot springs in China by 2,000 years. The earliest evidence of a bathtub in Egypt was found at Coptos, built around 2700 B.C.
Having said that showers use less water than baths, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t enjoy them from time to time!
Taking a bath can help you relax and have time to yourself. It can relieve stress by taking away the noise and the distractions from daily life and allowing you to focus only on your thoughts, calming frayed nerves and offering a break from the worries of daily life.
People who take baths three or more times a week tend to have less anxiety than those who do not.
Baths are good for your health because they have been shown to help reduce stress, which is scientifically linked to an increased risk of heart disease. Almost a third of us suffer from some form of stress. Stress can cause headaches, insomnia, weight gain and poor eating habits.
Here are some tips to help you save water when you take a bath.
Don’t overfill the bath
How much water depth do you actually need? Don’t be tempted to walk away while it fills up. I find it best to get in as soon as possible while the taps run so I can turn off the water as soon as I have enough to get clean.
Share the bath water
Yes, this is a bit yucky I know! We always did this with our kids once they were too big to go in together. I always made sure the grubbiest child went in last!
Make baths a treat
When you need to wind down, soothe sore muscles or just need to relax, sometimes only a bath will help!
How to save even more water when you wash
Consider washing less! That doesn’t mean going smelly of course. Do you shower daily? Is that really necessary?
In years gone by people used to wash much less than we do now. It’s not like you are going to be unclean if you only shower on the odd days. There are many alternatives to showers to preserve water, but that’s a whole other article.
If you wash more than daily then consider washing lightly and using cold or lukewarm water.
Think about what you do when you have a shower and you have virtually no time to wash.
Which bits do you always wash first? For me, it is underarms, face and ‘down there’. You could probably do a similar job with just some body wash and a wet flannel.
Do baths or showers use less water? – final thoughts
To summarise, in most cases, you should find that taking a shower uses much less water and saves you more money than a bath, but there are ways to find out for sure by doing the quick calculation I shared above.
If you find you are using a lot of water when you shower to the point where it is equal to a bath, think about how you can reduce your consumption. It is surprising how simple it is to do.
Changing the showerhead, reducing the time you have the water turned on, turning down the temperature and showering less are all things you can do quite easily to do your bit to help the environment and save money. It’s a win-win!