Shower theory turned on its head...

02 Dec 2011

New findings suggest that the issue of eco-friendly washing may be murkier than once thought

If you’re one of many impartial to stealing a quick dip in the tub, you may be aware of some of the stigma such an action can inspire. Some people would scald you for such wasteful indulgence, asking if you’d ever considered the impact you’re having on the earth.

The shower was commonly championed as the eco-warriors staple weapon on dirt, a badge of honour for those with an aversion to body odour; but perhaps no more. Recent research into the habits of British families has provided, in unprecedented detail, the common water wastage of the everyday general public; in these findings a new enemy has emerged, one that dispenses more indiscriminately the vital H20 supplies than even baths... the power shower.

Whilst an average 8 minute standard shower can use approximately 62 litres of water and an ordinary bath consume an increased 80 litres, the more forceful technology, which accounts for 20% of the market, frequently racks up to 136 litres of wastage. This is comparable to 200,000 litres of hot water per year for a four person family at a cost of £918.

Unilever, who are responsible for this revealing study, based their findings on data accumulated from 2,600 showers, conducted across 100 different households. The importance of highlighting this unknown mistruth was put forth by Jacob Tompkins, Managing Director of Waterwise, stating: “Showers are an increasingly large part of the mix in terms of the water we use... (whilst heating water in the home is about 5 per cent of UK CO2 emissions).

Taking into consideration the increasing levels of water that the average UK citizen uses and an ever-burgeoning population, it is perhaps unsurprising that even the government is beginning to scrutinise people’s shower routines. ‘Saving water is everybody’s responsibility’, claimed a spokesman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, continuing ‘by spending less time in the shower we can not only help the environment but also save money.’

Economical alternatives to popular, yet inefficient, high-power showers do exist, including aerated shower heads; this device, which introduces air into the water, can reduce usage by up 60% whilst maintaining the same level of power as formerly experienced. Those with a more accommodating budget can convert to an optimised shower - a handy means of regulating the flow of water.

‘While we’d still recommend switching from baths to showers’ stressed Mr Tompkins, ‘we strongly suggest not switching to a massive shower with a pump on.’ The choices for conscientious cleansing, it would seem, has just gotten smaller.

Tom Aston

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