This article shows you how to reduce how much money you spend every year on showers and baths. You can decrease this cost by upgrading to a low-flow shower head or by changing your shower habits!
How much does it cost you to take showers?
The average US household (which has about 2.6 people) spends approximately $312 per year on shower and bath expenses. To determine how much you pay per year to shower, you need to consider both water and energy costs (assuming you use hot water when you shower).
For water costs, you need to know the following:
- The number of gallons of water your shower uses per minute
- The number of minutes you spend in the shower per year
- The price pay the utility company per gallon of water
For energy costs, you need to know the following:
- The fuel type that your water heater uses (e.g. electricity, natural gas, propane, etc.)
- The amount of fuel needed to heat one gallon of water
- The price pay the utility company per unit of fuel
The Cost of Shower Water
Gallons per Shower
The gallons of water you use when you shower depends on the flow rate of your shower, or how many gallons come out of the nozzle in a given amount of time. Shower flow rates are usually measured in gallons per minute (gpm), and typical flow rates are 2.0 gpm or 2.5 gpm. Current US national standards mandate that the flow rate can be no higher than 2.5 gpm for new shower heads, but up to 20% of showers still use outdated technology that uses up to 5 gpm or 8 gpm.
The flow rate is usually written or engraved somewhere on the shower head near its outlet, but the flow rate can change depending on your house’s water pressure and if you have your shower handle partially or fully open. To more accurately measure your flow rate, you can time how long it takes to fill up a one-gallon container. For example, if it takes 24 seconds to fill up, you are using 2.5 gallons of water per minute during your shower.
The average shower lasts for about 8 minutes. If you take an 8 minute shower with a shower flow rate of 2 gpm, you use 16 gallons of water per shower. If you shower every day for a year, that’s 5,840 gallons of water you use just for showering!
In the US, the average price for water is about $0.015 per gallon. If you use 5,840 gallons of water to shower per year, that means you individually would spend about $88 per year for the water costs of a shower. The average US household of 2.6 people spends about $179 per year on the cost of water for showers.
The Cost to Heat Your Shower Water
Check out our Water Heater post for more information about how to determine how much money you pay to heat your water. The average US household spends $296 per year on water heating, and usually about 45% of all hot water usage is consumed by showers (40%) and baths (%5). So the average US household spends about $133 per year to heat their shower water.
To calculate a more accurate cost for your shower water heating expenses, you can use the specifications of your water heater to estimate how much energy it uses to heat one gallon of water. If you know the price you pay per unit of fuel (electricity, natural gas, etc.), you can calculate your shower energy expenses. Usually, people use 65% hot water and 35% cold water when they shower.
Reducing Your Shower Water and Energy Costs
Avoid Hot Water
Showering in cold water would completely eliminate the heating costs associated with your shower expenses! Cold water is also healthier for your skin and hair. To help yourself more easily adjust to cold water, it helps to shower when you already feel hot, like immediately after a workout.
Reduce Your Shower Minutes
There are several strategies you can use to decrease your shower minutes, which would directly reduce both your water and energy costs of showers.
- Shower less often. You can switch to showering once every two days, or two times every three days. Once your body adjusts to this new shower schedule, it might actually be able to better care for itself with natural oils!
- Shorten your showers. If you cut 2 minutes from a 10-minute shower, you’ve immediately reduced your shower expenses by 20%! You can purchase a smart shower device that not only tells you how many minutes you’ve been in the shower, but also the temperature of your shower water and the amount of water you’ve used.
- Turn off the water when it’s not being used. If you turn off the water when you are applying hair products, washing your body, or shaving, you can drastically reduce how many minutes your shower is operating.
You can upgrade to a low-flow shower head to reduce the flow rate of your shower! Switching from a 2.0 gpm shower head to a 1.5 gallon per minute shower head reduces your the water and energy costs of showers by 25%!
Would you save money by taking baths instead of showers?
A common question is whether you might use less water if you chose to take a bath instead of a shower. This depends on the size of your bathtub. Some bathtubs can hold up to 110 gallons of water at full capacity! You can measure your tub to see how much water you would use for a bath. For example, if you fill a 2 ft by 4ft bath to a height of 1 ft, that would be 8 cubic feet of water, or about 60 gallons of water. Compared to a typical shower that uses only 15-18 gallons, this bathtub size would use much more water.
Disclaimer: Please consult with a professional before making any upgrades to your shower, bath, bathroom, or home. Any and all upgrades should maintain proper health, safety, and sanitation levels within your homes. It All Adds Up and its affiliates are not responsible for any household damage or personal injuries that should occur from following any suggestions from It All Adds Up.