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Improving Shower Efficiency
For those who want to improve their bathrooms fixtures for a more comfortable and more energy efficient showering experience, there are simple changes to the shower itself that can help reduce hot water use. In addition, these tips can also help minimize evaporation and keep temperatures constant reducing the biggest factors contributing to energy waste while showering.
How Conventional Showers Waste Water and Electricity. Most conventional showers allow substantial airflow into the showering area, which increases evaporation and lowers the air temperature, requiring you to use hotter water to remain comfortable.
Additionally, the moisture in the air condenses on cold surfaces like the tile in a bathroom, potentially causing mold problems. Most energy loss during a shower is due to evaporation of the water as it falls and on the skin, which cools the skin. Therefore, maintaining a warmer, more humid air temperature in the shower stall itself increases the overall comfort of the shower and saves energy by providing overall conditions that don’t require an increase of heated water.
Air currents in a normal bathroom undercut the efficiency of the shower, wasting energy, water and your money in the process.
Energy Efficient Showerheads. An energy-efficient showerhead has a flow rate of less than 2.5 gallons per minute (gpm). Most showerheads installed before 1992 had a standard flow rate as much as 5.5 gpm, so if your shower heads are older they should probably be checked for water flow. Here's a quick test to determine whether you should replace a showerhead:
Place a bucket—marked in gallon increments—under your shower head.
Turn on the shower at the normal water pressure you use.
Time how many seconds it takes to fill the bucket to the one-gallon (3.8 liter) mark.
If it takes less than 20 seconds to reach the one-gallon mark, you could benefit from a low-flow shower head. You can purchase some quality, low-flow fixtures for $5-$20 each and achieve water savings of 25–60%.
Most consumers report that they save money without experiencing many differences in the showering experience. Heating water for showers is also the second biggest energy hog in a house after the furnace, so there may be some savings on the heating bill as well.
The Solution to Shower Inefficiency. The best way to make your shower more efficient is to seal off the shower area from outside air currents. Without the disturbing effects of colder, drier air interacting with the shower water, your shower will not only be more comfortable, but it will also make less steam, reducing the water vapor condensing on the walls of the bathroom. A sealed shower means less wasted water and lower potential of mold formation.
The effectiveness of sealing off the shower from air flow, stabilizes the thermal temperature, increasing humidity and comfort in the shower, while decreasing the need for additional heating energy.
If you are serious about increasing efficiency in your bathroom, or are remodeling anyway, consider constructing your shower out of a low thermal mass material such as fiberglass that heats up quickly and maintains its temperature well.
A shower utilizing energy-efficient materials lets you shower in a cold bathroom comfortably, saving money on heating the bathroom itself as well as the energy it takes to heat the water in the shower.
Based on one 10-minute shower a day, an energy-efficient, low-flow showerhead can save up to 10,000 gallons of water a year, representing a $145 energy savings. For more information on showerheads, click here.
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Why is this important?
Showers can easily waste more energy and water than you realize. Making a few simple changes to the setup of your shower and the kind of showerhead that you use can drastically diminish your energy and water use.