How Much Water Do You Use in a Shower? (And Why Does It Matter?)

There’s nothing quite like a long hot shower for relaxation, but how much water are we really using when we do that? The numbers aren’t pretty but by making a few adjustments, we can significantly cut down on the water we use when we shower.

Here’s what the numbers say and what you can do about it.

What Do the Numbers Show?

  • The average person uses around 80 to 100 gallons of water per day.
  • Of the total daily usage, around 15.8 or 19 percent is used for showering.
  • Showers and faucets take up the same amount of a person’s daily water usage.
  • The average shower is 7.8 minutes long.
  • The average shower flow rate is 2.1 gallons per minute.
  • Federal mandates require shower water flow to be no more than 2.5 gpm. Before 1980, most showerheads had a gpm of 5!
  • Products certified by WaterSense (EPA) have a flow rate of not more than 2.0 gpm.

The numbers indicate that a massive amount of water is used on showers each day. Although the federal government has imposed restrictions on water flow, which has helped to reduce water usage due to showers, there’s still a lot that can be done.

How to Reduce Shower Water Usage?

water usage for shower

Following graphic shows just how much water can be saved with a couple of changes to our shower routines:

This shows that it doesn’t have to be difficult to reduce shower water usage. In fact, it comes down to two main factors:

  • Length of shower
  • Flow rate (gpm)

By reducing the length of showers taken and by installing a showerhead that saves water with a low water flow rate, you can save thousands of gallons of water per year very easily.

Here’s how to tackle these two factors effectively:

1- Reducing Shower Duration

There are many reasons people take a long time in the shower, but we can all agree that it’s comfortable and relaxing. Most people zone out and do their deep thinking while showering, without realizing that they’re wasting gallons of water and contributing to higher energy bills.

Some easy ways to reduce the length of time you spend in the shower include:

  • Take a cold shower. This is less pleasant than hot showers and will make you want to get out sooner.
  • Don’t do your deep thinking in the shower. It’s easy to zone out and become reflective but being conscious of this can help to reduce that time spent there.
  • Don’t use the shower to warm up. Especially in cold months, we tend to stay for prolonged periods in the shower to warm our bodies up. Find other ways to do this.
  • Use a shower timer. By attaching a waterproof clock near your shower and timing yourself, you’ll be conscious of the passing of time and will remember to get out of the shower sooner.

While all these steps are useful ways to cut down on the time you spend in the shower, we prefer using a shower timer because it’s the most practical and easiest way to track the time you spend in the shower.

timer to be used in shower

Shower timer. Check Price here.

2- Reducing Flow Rate

As we’ve already mentioned, showerheads sold in the U.S. are restricted to a gpm of 2.5 or less. But water saving showerheads have even lower gpm rates.

Showerheads that are WaterSense certified cannot have a flow rate of over 2 gallons per minute. Some may go down as far as 1.0 gpm, but the average would be around 1.75 to 2.0 gpm.

This might seem low, but these showerheads must also provide a satisfactory shower experience equivalent to their regular counterparts. If they don’t meet these standards during their independent testing process, they aren’t awarded with the WaterSense label.

Some water companies offer incentives and rebates for using WaterSense certified products, which is a bonus. However, if you opt for a showerhead that doesn’t offer this label, use the flow rate (gpm) of the showerhead to make your decision. Find the balance between a low gpm and a satisfactory shower experience.

A common misconception is that reducing the flow rate of the water will lead to longer showers, but studies show this not to be the case. If you spend 10 minutes in the shower, this won’t be impacted by the amount of water flowing out of your showerhead.

Following is our recommendations:

1.5 GPM

2.0 GPM

The Bottom Line

It takes a little awareness and effort to reduce your shower water usage. However, this correlates to savings in water as well as energy and money.

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