3 minute showers for a year

April 20, 2008: Accomplished goal

Last year I sent out to conserve some water and energy by seeing if I could live with a short three minute shower each day for a year. One year later, I've saved about 14,000 litres of hot water. Not bad! (That said, it's interesting to consider that if you really want to save water, it's quite possible to wet your body with 0.5 litres of water, lather yourself up, and then rinse off with another 2 litres, which translates to a 15 second shower!)

Now that I'm done, I think I'll try to keep it up. There's something to be said for speedy showers even beyond saving water and energy: They get you moving in the morning! Taking 7-10 minutes in the shower is just another form of procrastination. Being speedy, on the other hand, gets you in the mind set that you have places to go and things to do. I like it.

Today I came across a neat blog:
greenasathistle.com

Welcome to Green as a Thistle. My name is Vanessa, I'm a journalist at the National Post, based in Toronto. When I saw the documentary An Inconven— no, just kidding. Now that organic is the new bl— OK, no, seriously now. In short, this blog began somewhere between dissing Stéphane Dion's dog (named Kyoto) and finding myself amongst a group of eco-hipsters drinking hemp beer at an anti-styrofoam party. I decided to take on a bit of a challenge: Spend each day, for an entire calendar year, doing one thing that betters the environment. The idea is that everything I do, I keep doing (so if I switch brands, it's a permanent switch; if I turn down my thermostat, I keep it down), so that by day 365, I'll be living as green a lifestyle as it gets. I hope, in the end, this proves that being an environmentalist doesn't necessarily have to require massive change, compromise or Greenpeace levels of dedication — it can be simple, and inspiring.

February 23, 2008

Just under two months left to go! I had to forfit a nice Jacuzzi up in Horseshoe Valley a couple of weekends ago after a long day skiing... it almost slipped my mind that that would be a no-no :)

The other interesting circumstance has been visiting Meredith's childhood home in Ottawa, where there is a bath tub but no shower. So, what to do? Well, I re-used some bathwater. Yup, more information than you asked for! But you know what? I was amazed at how clean and warm once-used bathwater is... definitely something not to be done by us high class North Americans, right? :)

October 30, 2007

Over half way there... has it really been 6 months since April already? So far I've saved about 7,000 litres of hot water. Not bad!

July 18, 2007

Hey, it has almost been a quarter of a year! Woohoo! Speediness rules!

June 17, 2007

I finally got around to checking downstairs to see whether we have a water meter in our furnace room, and it turns out we do! It reads 2092.79 cubic meters. I checked it again a few hours later and it read 2092.82 cubic meters. Neat. Something that I recalled hearing was that 1 cubic meter is the same as 1000 litres, so 2092.82 - 2092.79 = 30 litres. I'm going to track our water usage each day for the next couple of weeks to get an idea of what a typical day for us is.

June 6, 2007

Has it really been a month and a half already? Time flies! Now that I've gotten into the habit of quick showers I kind of like it. Showering has always been a love/hate relationship in that, while it's nice to be in warm water, there is this constant feeling of being "cold", especially if you're just standing there relaxing. But if you never stop moving, you stay warm the whole time you're in the shower. It's also nice in that it gets you ready for work faster, partly because you spend less time showering, but also because the quickened mindset means that you are quicker at shaving, getting dressed, etc.

April 21, 2007

The two newest addition to the list are "Floss each day for a year", and, with Earth Day close by, "3 minute showers for a year". I wonder how much energy a ten minute shower uses? Here are some quotes from the Internet:

"Along with saving energy, saving water is really important"

The former UN Secretary General, Boutros Boutros Ghali: "Water will be more important than oil this century"

"People in rich countries use 10 times more water than poor ones"

"Taking a five minute shower every day, instead of a bath, will use a third of the water, saving up to 400 litres a week"

"The average five-minute shower takes between 15 to 25 gallons of water" (15 US gallons = 57 litres)

"After the toilet, the shower is the second heaviest water user in the home, using up to 30 percent of the total household water"

My first time trial today... it takes our shower 30 seconds to become warm, after which it took 1 minute and 30 seconds to shower quickly. My little time saving strategy is to put the shampoo in your hair before turing the tap on :) So while my goal is to stay under three minutes, it looks like I should be able to make do with around 2 minutes each day.

I wanted to see if I could figure out how much water our shower head uses, so I found it on waterpik's website, but it doesn't even list the efficiency! Why on earth?! I was impressed however with their "Ask Ann" feature. I typed in "How much water does my shower head use?" and it came back with:

Waterpik® showerheads have been designed in compliance with the Energy Bill passed by the Federal Government in October of 1992. This policy, which became effective January 1, 1994, set showerhead flow rates at 2.5 gallons per minute. Therefore, our current shower models are designed with a control device, which allows for optimum performance at the maximum flow rate of 2.5 gallons of water per minute.

Ok, time for some calculations:

flow_rate = 2.5 gallons per minute = approx. 10 litres per minute

15 minute shower = 150 litres
10 minute shower = 100 litres
5 minute shower = 50 litres
3 minute shower = 30 litres
2 minute shower = 20 litres

If a bath takes three times as much water as a five minute shower, then that is around 150 litres.

I did a search on Google for "How much water does a bath use?" and found "A typical bath takes about 40 gallons of water", which is almost exactly 150 litres. (Equivalent to a 15 minute shower)

Just for fun, I calculated the difference in water usage comparing the adult population of the US having one bath a day for a month VS having a 2 minute shower each day for a month:

220 million adults:

2 minute shower = 1.32 trillion litres of water

bath = 10 trillion litres of water

And finally, the volume of lake Erie: 150 trillion litres of water