Fitting a low-power shower

Last updated Monday 21 July 2008

How to use your head

Shorter showers under a gentler stream save water and electricity. But would you take the power out of your shower?

Taking a shower rather than a bath is a great saver of energy and water. But there seems to be a growing trend to opt for a shower that doesn't so much clean you as pin you to the wall.

While power showers may be invigorating, they pump as much as 16 litres of water a minute - more than the average person living in the developing world gets through in a day. In fact, even a five-minute power shower can use more water than a bath. Changing the shower head could take the sting out of your water and energy bills.

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Photo: Fitting a low-power shower

Saves up to 320 kg of CO2 a year

225 Bloomers are doing this

CO2 reduction 2 out of 5

Cheapness 2 out of 5

Popularity 3 out of 5

Cost 15

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How will it make a difference?

  • Replacing a power shower with a low-flow shower could save around 35 litres of water every time you shower
  • If you shower every day, this could save around 12,000 litres a year - and the reduction in your hot water use would save you as much CO2 as switching to energy-saving lightbulbs and 20 off your hot water bill each year
  • If you have a power shower, every minute you cut off your showering time can save as much as 16 litres of water
  • If everyone in England, Scotland and Wales cut their shower time down by a single minute, we would save enough water to supply everyone in London, Birmingham and Leeds for a whole day

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What's stopping me?

Pub Fact

  • The average Brit spends 7.2 minutes in the shower according to Waterwise
  • The average Brit leaves the tap on for three minutes while brushing his teeth
  • If all the leaky taps in England, Scotland and Wales were fixed for a day we would save enough water to supply the inhabitants of Chester with all their water needs for a day
  • Men and women spend about the same amount of time in the shower: men take seven minutes on average while women take 7.6 minutes
  • In the last 30 years, showers have risen from being owned by a fifth of British homes to about 85% of homes today

"Won't slowing the water mean it takes longer to rinse the shampoo out of my hair!"

Unless you already have a problem with low water pressure, it shouldn't make any difference. One option is to stop the flow of water while you lather up, so you only use water while you need it.

"I have an electric shower. Can I still fit a low-flow shower head?"

No. It can be dangerous to use low-flow shower heads with electric showers because they can overheat the water. If you're committed to the cause then you can always upgrade your system to gas.

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How do I do it?

  • Buy a low-flow shower head, which can limit the water flow to as little as eight litres a minute (cost: 15). Not suitable for electric showers or low-pressure gravity shower systems, however
  • Buy an aerated shower head, which adds air pressure to the flow (Waterwise). Again, not suitable for certain electric or low-pressure gravity shower systems
  • Have a cooler shower, which also helps you to avoid temporary varicose veins
  • Get a shower timer - see Waterwise again
  • If you have musical tendencies in the shower, it's time to change your tune - think the Minute Waltz rather than the Ring Cycle ( BBC report)
  • Get a water meter: estimated to cut water use by 10-15%

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Water meter
A device used to measure the volume of water used by a household or business. Billing people for the water they actually use, rather than a fixed annual charge, is increasingly common in the UK, and is regarded as an incentive to users to avoid wasting water.

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