from Consumer Reports blog, August 22, 2008:
“Take showers instead of baths to save energy,” is an oft-repeated adage of water and energy conservation advocates. But the Department of Energy’s water-heater-sizing pages now list the average shower as consuming 12 gallons and the average bath only 9 gallons of hot water.
The DOE is also saying that homeowners are using from 15 to 30 percent of their total energy budget just to heat water—up from an earlier 14 to 25 percent estimate. So is soaking instead of scrubbing the way to go?
This was unsettling news for me, as a shower is an efficient way for me to wash away the day's grime. Even when I take a bath, I still follow up with a shower to rinse my hair and body. A bath is more of a luxury than a daily routine, for me and most of the folks I know.
To reconcile this surprising statistic, I have learned to turn OFF the water while I lather myself. I get wet, lather my washcloth, wash my hair quickly, rinse and put in the conditioner, then the water goes off while I wash my body, shave, scrub my feet, etc. Then a final rinse and my shower is done.
We've discovered that when we use this method instead of letting the shower run the entire time, all three showers in our house can be used and nobody gets cold water. Which means we aren't using up all the hot/energy consuming water. Additionally, the investment in a low flow showerhead, while required by some municipalities, can cause a groan. But with a little research, it needn't feel like a squirt gun, but a regular waterfall. The only thing that won't be washing down the drain is your pennies.