Save money with a quicker shower. But how much?

A long soak in the shower is a pretty inexpensive treat, but the potential savings from cutting your shower time a few minutes aren't negligible.

Denis Balibouse/Reuters/File
A bathroom with a shower is pictured in a Boeing Business Jet 737/700 aircraft during the Annual European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition at Cointrin airport in Geneva in this May 2012 file photo.

After a long day, I enjoy a nice shower. It feels pretty good to stand in there and let the water pour over you. Every once in a while, I simply take a long shower.

Most of the time, though, a shower is just a task to be performed as part of the normal day. With children around, it’s one that needs to be performed quickly, too. A quick shower is a less expensive shower, too.

My target is a four minute shower, though I often go over by a little bit. I count those four minutes from the instant I turn on the water to the instant I turn it off.

When I’m in there, I’m all business. My goal is to get clean and get out so I can get on with the other activities of the day.

Of course, the real question is how much money does such a short shower really save?

Let’s say that you take a twelve minute shower every day, and your shower head produces two gallons of water per minute. If you cut that down to four minutes, you’re saving sixteen gallons of water per shower, or 5,840 gallons per year. Depending on where you are, that will save you $10 to $100 a year in water usage, according to these rates.

On top of that, there’s the issue of water heating. With each shower, you’re using hot water, which is either causing your tankless heater to run for a while or causing hot water to leave your tank and cold water to enter it.

In either case, you’re going to be using some amount of energy to replenish your hot water. Given that energy rates and efficiencies vary greatly, let’s just assume that it takes half a cent worth of energy to raise the temperature of a gallon of water from cold to hot. That means you’ll be saving eight cents in energy costs per shorter shower, or $30 per year.

Remembering that these numbers are very much a “back-of-the-envelope” example, cutting your daily shower from twelve minutes to four minutes will save you somewhere between $10 and $130 per year in water use and energy use, depending on such factors as the flow rate of your shower head, the local cost of water, the efficiency of your water heater, the local cost of energy, and the heat level of your shower.

What if you like a nice long soak in the shower? Go for it, by all means. It’s a pretty inexpensive treat, after all.

However, if you’re like me, the best part of a shower is getting clean. If you do that efficiently, you save both time and money.

This post is part of a yearlong series called “365 Ways to Live Cheap (Revisited),” in which I’m revisiting the entries from my book “365 Ways to Live Cheap,” which is available at Amazon and at bookstores everywhere. Images courtesy of Brittany Lynne Photography, the proprietor of which is my “photography intern” for this project.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.